Regions in action: from climate-neutrality to eradicating energy poverty

Energy poverty and the fight against global warming have starred at the 23rd meeting of the Commission for Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions. The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agreement locally, along with explicit support for coal regions, were also on the discussion table. Ahead of the European elections in May, the ENVE Chair Cor Lamers stressed the need to 'live up to the expectations of our youth on the climate emergency we live in.'

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Opening the 23rd meeting of the Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE), its Chair, Cor Lamers (NL/EPP), Mayor of Schiedam, said:“Young Europeans are reminding us weekly on the climate emergency we live in and we must live it up to their expectations. We must display new and innovative measures to maximise the potential to convert Europe's clean energy transition into sustainable growth and jobs. As EU's assembly of cities and regions, we are committed to pursue all efforts to concretise formal mechanisms to involve local and regional authorities into EU and national climate and energy policies."

Members adopted a draft opinion on 'A Clean Planet for All: a European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy'. Rapporteur Michele Emiliano (IT/PES), President of the Puglia region, said: “We need new measures and better targeted public funding at the EU and national levels if we want both a net zero emissions economy and to achieve UN's Sustainable Development Goals. The carbon neutral transition is an opportunity to provide incentives for clean technologies, new skills and jobs and improved health and living conditions for our citizens. Appropriate pricing of fossil-based energy and emissions allowances is key to the transition to renewable energy. The Energy Tax Directive and state aid rules must allow for taxes on renewables to be reduced to foster their market take-up."

Cities and regions request to raise the share of the EU budget spent on climate to at least 30% along with tax breaks within EU climate-neutral funding programmes. President Emiliano's opinion reiterates the CoR's call on EU institutions and Member States to establish a permanent multi-level platform for dialogue on energy, to institutionalise Locally Determined Contributions (LDCs) within national energy and climate plans (NECPs) and to establish a European Climate Neutrality observatory to map climate vulnerable areas and help target EU support appropriately.

President Emiliano's opinion requests to systematically involve regions and local authorities in the implementation of SDGs, the Paris agreement and COP25 preparatory work, including a CoR representative as observer in all UNFCCC bodies. The opinion, to be voted during the June plenary, contributes to the 2050 climate neutral strategy, published by the European Commission last November 2018.

Members unanimously adopted the opinion on 'Multilevel governance and cross-sectoral cooperation to fight energy poverty'. Rapporteur Kata Tüttő (HU/PES), Representative of Local Government of District 12 of Budapest, said: "More than 50 million Europeans face difficulties with heating their homes in winter because of high energy prices, low incomes and damp unhealthy homes.  Too many Europeans have to choose between eating and heating in winter. The EU has very ambitious goals on energy and environment. It is time to have a European goal to end energy poverty."

Rapporteur Tüttő's defends everyone's right to affordable energy and proposes a 'moratorium on the suspension of public services due to failure to pay' so that 'no household is left without basic heating and cooling.' The representative of Budapest' District 12 stressed the pivotal role of local energy communities and the importance of the Covenant of Mayors as it has introduced the fight against energy poverty as one of its new priorities. The opinion is to be voted during the plenary session of 26-27 June 2019.

Members agreed to launch an own-initiative opinion on the Covenant of Mayors after 2020 and appointed rapporteur Benedetta Brighenti (IT/PES), Member of Castelnuovo Rangone Municipal Council in the region of Emilia-Romagna.

The ENVE members will meet 12-14 June 2019 in Bucharest for a Joint Conference with the European Commission's 12th Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan. Together with the Association of Romanian Municipalities and the Romanian presidency of the Council of the EU, the event will look at the technological and financial instruments that can foster the market uptake of innovative eco products and services and make the energy transition happen locally.

Members had exchange of views on the following opinions:

'Sustainable Europe by 2030: Follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ecologic transition and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change' by rapporteur Sirpa Hertell (FI/EPP). Cities and regions call for targets and progress indicators on implementing SDGs at the local and regional level. The opinion is to be adopted in October 2019.

'Implementing the Paris Agreement through innovative and sustainable energy transition at regional and local level' by rapporteur Witold Stępień (PL/EPP). The opinion is to be adopted in October 2019.

'Implementing the Clean Energy Package: the INECPs as a tool for a transversal approach to climate, active and passive energy' by rapporteur József Ribanyi (HU/EPP). The opinion is to be adopted in October 2019.

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Last modified on Monday, 08 April 2019 19:48