On July 6th, on the occasion of the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, Energy Cities’ President and Lord Mayor of Heidelberg, Eckart Würzner, compared notes with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the role local authorities should play in the governance of the EU Energy Union, a key legislative proposal currently under discussion in the EU institutions.
The roundtable was hosted by MEP Claude Turmes and MEP Michèle Rivasi, who are both authors of the draft report on the proposal for a regulation on the governance of the Energy Union. This strategic legislation aims to provide a legal framework for Member States to report on the implementation of the 2030 energy and climate targets across the 5 pillars of the Energy Union: 1) Decarbonisation, 2) Energy Security 3) Internal Market 4) Research & Development 5) Energy Efficiency. In the framework of the Energy Union Governance, Member States develop National Climate and Energy Plans (NCEPs), whose successful implementation are paramount for the EU to become fully decarbonized by 2050, in line with its commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Energy Cities’ President and Lord Mayor of Heidelberg Eckart Würzner shared with MEPs the participatory planning process at local level in Heidelberg, where citizens and civil society are included early on in the co-design and co-creation of the city’s climate and energy policies. In its climate protection masterplan, Heidelberg has defined a 2050 target of reducing its CO2 emissions by 95 percent, and also wants to cut in half its energy consumption by then. “In order to achieve these ambitious targets, it is essential that we work together with citizens and all local actors from the beginning. Their active involvement and contribution is key to deliver on our climate and energy policies”, said Würzner.
Eckart Würzner also shared Heidelberg’s experience of working with the national level in Germany. Through instruments such as Deutscher Städtetag (national association of German local authorities) and the Rat für nachhaltige Entwicklung (Council for Sustainable Development of the German Government), German cities are consulted on federal and national level on strategic decisions regarding the country’s energy planning.
However, for Würzner this involvement of cities at national level does not go far enough, especially as regards the critical EU Energy Union Governance regulation:
“We need a direct link between cities, national governments and EU institutions. Local governments are key partners in delivering the energy transition, not merely stakeholders among others. Cities have a leading role in implementing EU climate and energy objectives through ambitious policies at local level, such as in the framework of the Covenant of Mayors. Therefore, the Energy Union Governance should create a framework that brings cities on an equal footing with Member States and EU institutions, in order to successfully implement together a fair and solidary EU Energy Union for citizens”.
By enabling cities to play a key role in the design of the EU Energy Union, the EU can foster strong public support and reconnect with citizens, concluded Würzner in his intervention.
The participating MEPs, some of them former mayors, appreciated the exchange with Eckart Würzner, with MEP Claude Turmes calling for further similar exchanges with local leaders in the coming months. Energy Cities and its mayors stand ready to contribute to the design of an EU Energy Union Governance that provides space for a strong role for cities and local actors!
|Read our briefing on the role of local actors in the EU Energy Union Governance|
Read our Storify of the event!
July 13, 2017