Entrenching the just transition into the EU Green Deal

The Social Climate Fund at the service of a place-based transition


Publication date

February 18, 2022

EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira made it very clear in her speech presenting the 8th Cohesion report last week: “For far too long, many policies have been ‘spatially blind’”. The proposed EU Social Climate Fund should not become another case in point and instead serve as a strategic place-based instrument addressing the multi-faceted challenges that prevent Europeans to meet their heat and mobility needs.

The European Commission’s proposal aims at setting up a Social Climate Fund to compensate for the negative social impacts of the anticipated increase in energy prices resulting from a proposed system of carbon quotas on buildings and road transport (ETS2). The proposed governance model of the fund would mirror that of the Resilience and Recovery Facility (RRF)

However, we, at Energy Cities, believe that the RRF model is a trap to avoid and we advocate for a place-based facility, rather than fund, mirroring the approach of the cohesion policy. The funding should be disbursed through operational programmes designed in close collaboration with regional authorities. To make sure that the more decentralised and local level is also fully involved in this process, Member States shall give priority to local and sub-regional approaches, particularly via earmarking an indicative share of the budget to Community-Led Local Development and Integrated Territorial Investments.

Our recommendations

  • Extending the Social Climate Fund into a broader Social Climate Facility which addresses social climate action in a more integrated and decentralised way
  • Using the Cohesion Policy approach as a model for the governance of the fund, instead of the Resilience and Recovery Facility
  • Relying on a proven model (partnership principle of the Cohesion policy and its local development mechanisms) to guarantee the relevance and effectiveness of social climate action
  • Avoiding that only well-resourced and organised entities access the money: dedicate a portion of SCF funding to the creation of an EU coordination platform with national focal points dealing with capacity-building and the allocation of seed funding
  • Guarantee that each of the 3000+ Local Action Groups already set up across Europe have a social action agenda through dedicated funding
  • Improving the perceived European added value through a more local, and thus visible, channelling of climate action funds

Read our paper on the subject for more details on these approaches and on the recommendations presented above.