Energy Cities’ political 3D vision allows for both a wide-viewing angle and a high precision look at the energy future. Three components that will bring the change: Divest, Democratise, Devolve.
The first D – do not see here any form of hierarchy – is DIVEST. Our understanding of this buzz word is “changing directions”, i.e. favouring sound investment choices with a long life! Today’s news are not very reassuring in this regard. The Financial Times reports the UK is set to announce new subsidies for the so-called “capacity market” of back-up power, meaning not just gas but also nuclear plants and… highly-polluting diesel generators. In the post-COP21 context, is it really the best strategy to secure our energy future? What about the countless innovative practices being invented everyday across our cities, to store energy through their electrical vehicle fleet (heads up to our member Delft!) or via the conversion of electricity into hydrogen (wink to Aberdeen)? Not to talk about organisational or behavioural changes that bring about new forms of energy consumption and production. It is indeed high time the EU divested funding priorities towards such creative methods instead, even more so as the recently-published winter package on energy security has put “stranded assets” and “overcapacity” on everyone’s lips in Brussels…
And if we stay in the UK, our DEMOCRATISE “D” remains very relevant, with the debate on Brexit reaching a boiling point over the past few weeks. Isn’t time to bring grand EU projects, such as the Energy Union, closer to citizens? This would certainly help inject some sense of purpose into the European integration, and in this respect, our recent position paper on the Renewables Directive 2.0 makes some bold recommendations for energy democracy. One of Energy Cities’ key demands here is to open the capital and governance of all new renewable projects to citizens and local authorities. Please, no eye-brow raising here! Similar provisions have already been taken in France and Denmark and they have proved successful.
And our last D: we’ll continue calling for more power and competences to be DEVOLVEd to local authorities, which should be among the new stakeholders in charge of a system that is no longer fit for top-down decision making. When we see the discovery of new gas fields never failing to make headlines, one could be left to wonder what should be said about all the local renewable or recoverable resources lying all across European territories. Think local first! This will be our motto for the upcoming review of the Energy Union governance framework.
Let’s DDDo it!
March 15, 2016