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How the local level secures energy supply, creates jobs and ensures social cohesion

“Competitive Europe” – the local authority vision for 2030 climate and energy policy

“Climate Alliance of European Cities with Indigenous Rainforest Peoples” is the European network of local authorities committed to climate action. Our 1,700 members in 24 countries are dedicated to reduce their CO₂ emissions by 10 % every 5 years and halve their per capita emissions by 2030.

How can competitiveness and energy and climate action be combined?

 

The evidence shows that competitiveness and security of supply are best met via increased energy efficiency and with more decentralised energy production with renewable sources. Continuous support for energy efficiency and renewable energy production will reduce the dependency on energy imports, reduce energy prices, and boost local economies creating more value as well as new local jobs.

 

  • In 2012 Europe used €545 billion for importing fossil fuels.
  • Europe’s import dependence is exponentially increasing and is set to grow to more than 80% in the case of oil and gas by 2035.
  • Some Member States rely on one single Russian supplier and often on one single supply route for 80%-100% of their gas consumption. This profoundly affects the competitiveness of Europe’s economy and shows how far Europe is from its policy objective of security of supply.

Why do we need 3 ambitious and binding targets for 2030?

 

Local action on energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy contributes to the achievement of the EU’s 20-20-20 targets. The Covenant of Mayors initiative launched in 2008 has become the major European movement of local authorities with a clear vision. The initiative counts today some 5,500 signatories. More than 3,400 Sustainable Energy Action Plans are currently under implementation in average aiming to reduce CO₂emissions by almost 30%. A growing number of committed cities and municipalities will continue to contribute to achieving the climate goals – also beyond 2020 – not only because these actions mitigate climate change, but also due to their positive economic and social impacts.

The HagueTo set the right priorities and identify climate measures in The Hague (NL), the city has issued a so- called back casting study with the research company CE Delft on how the city’s climate target of CO2 neutrality in 2040 can be achieved. This study calculates that more than 50% of the city’s CO2 emissions are dependent on ‘tailwind’; the positive effect of the EU keeping up its stringent climate policy. This tailwind includes amongst others a further lowering of emission standards for vehicles after 2020 and the up keeping of the ambitious and binding climate neutral target for electricity production in 2050, as stated in the European Climate Roadmap 2050.
CO₂ Emission Reduction: Only an ambitious CO₂ reduction target for 2030 at EU level will pave the way for achieving the target of 85-95 % less CO₂ emissions by 2050. The Energy and Low Carbon Roadmaps 2050 provide the overall policy framework with the long-term perspective. In order to answer to these objectives, considerable action is needed now! Ambitious targets in Europe will also send an important signal to the world and support an international climate agreement by 2015.
Renewable Energy: Renewable energy sources will play a major part in Europe’s long-term decarbonisation efforts. Local energy companies are becoming more and more important regarding independent energy supply. United by a target for using 100% renewable energy or becoming energy autonomous, local governments and citizens are implementing new initiatives to provide locally produced green energy for the stability of their community. In order to respond to this new decentralised energy landscape, Europe needs a framework with adequate financial mechanisms that will help to establish functioning markets for a 100% renewable energy supply.

 

Energy Efficiency: Binding targets provide a clear policy framework and provide security of policy continuity. The only 2020 target that is not binding today – the 20 % energy efficiency target – is also the only lagging behind. One important effect of a binding target will be the boost of energy service markets in Europe, creating business opportunities beyond the mere selling of energy. By 2030 Europeans would be saving €200 billion net a year from energy efficiency, taking into account both investment costs in energy efficiency and energy cost savings.

Following examples of Climate Alliance show the evidence

Decentralised energy supply:

kick-start for investments and innovation

Investing in resilient, strong and stable communities
Local climate action is a job engine

Warm houses: low energy bills

Conclusion:

Plenty of business opportunities through sustainable and decentralised energy policies

 

 

The culprits of the decreasing competitiveness of Europe are definitely not renewable energy and energy efficiency. All headlines blaming renewable energy for high(er) energy prices and decreasing opportunities for job creation could be easily refuted. And (honest) figures reveal that fossil fuels and nuclear electricity subsidies are often much higher than those for renewable energy.

 

Of course, the energy transition will change a lot: Instead of large scale coal and nuclear plants, there will be numerous small and decentralised energy producers and energy cooperatives; less big employers but many SMEs; innovative products, which find markets all over the world; engaged and responsible citizens becoming “prosumers”; better security of energy supply and less energy poverty… But does that sound so bad?

 

The local examples presented in this portfolio demonstrate the high potential of local action in stimulating green economy and job creation. The current negotiations on the 2030 energy and climate framework are THE opportunity to set the course for a Europe which will stand at the forefront of secure and clean energy supply, decentralised, but stable energy infrastructure, smart cities and municipalities, innovative industry and social cohesion. So: let’s go for it!