European cities play an important role in fighting global climate change. They promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, soft mobility (walking, cycling, public transport), organic agriculture and local products, as they take actions to adapt to the risks of climate change. Global responsibility is one driver for these policies, however they only become a stable part of local administrative action when embedded in an encompassing vision of sustainable local development. The protection of earth’s climate is an unlikely driving force for the transformation from a fossil fuel to a solar society; more precisely, it can only be one force among others. A review of the climate policies of some leading European cities shows that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions functions well as a guiding variable for an integrated sustainable development. Cities that agree to ambitious reduction targets for greenhouse gases also tend to dedicate resources and attention to citizens’ participation, rank high in terms of livability and have more people moving on bicycle and by foot, overall making them better cities to live in.