Moving towards fossil-free districts: What’s in it for my city? 

Introducing the new way that Energy Cities organises itself into Hubs

The webinar Moving towards fossil-free districts: What’s in it for my city? that was held on 16 June was the occasion to launch the Energy Cities’ Hub “Fossil-free districts and buildings” aiming at ensuring our energy system’s stability through diversified local renewable energy sources, strong energy public services & improved energy efficiency & sufficiency.  

In this webinar, the participants gained greater insights on what is at stake for cities when we talk about fossil-free cities. They also got the opportunity to meet other municipalities and discuss key elements to move forward in the decarbonisation of heating and cooling systems and of the built environment. 

How do Energy Cities’ Hubs work?  

Each Hub is organised around a set of four activities. For the Fossil Free Cities, this means: 

  • What’s EUP: Informing and briefing members and local policymakers mostly on the REPowerEU, the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive, and the Energy Performance in Building Directive  
  • Mayors Voices: Organising discussions between local political leaders and key EU policy makers on concrete proposals in support of cities’ climate transition. During our Annual Forum, in April, the Deputy Mayors of Ghent and Dijon discussed concrete measures to decarbonise buildings and heating systems in their cities with the Head of Cabinet of the Energy Commissioner and a lead author of the IPCC.  
  • Transition leaders programme: Helping our members build their capacities to facilitate the transformation of the energy system. Last May, we organised a capacity building session dedicated to the topic of mandatory connection to district heating, showcasing examples from five different countries. 
  • Market place: Facilitating our members’ access to EU funding with info sessions, matchmaking events and project ideas labs, running competitive calls for funding on specific topics.  

What are the policy priorities? 

One of the overarching policy goals is to have a good reflection of the local level in the national strategies. To transition to future-proof cities and territories, the scales of districts and buildings are key, especially to show the door to gas and other fossil fuels. This will translate in sub-goals, which are:  

  • Making sure that cities have enough means (funding and staff capacity) to implement local solutions 
  • Having a right framework to phase out fossil fuels  
  • Making sure to have both energy efficiency and sufficiency  
  • Having a holistic approach of short-term and long-term solutions (economical, ecological, environmental, and geopolitical impacts)  

Regarding the question of staff needs, Energy Cities recently released a study “How many people do we need in local authorities for the buildings’ transition?”, and launched the #LocalStaff4Climate campaign with its core partners to urge national governments of EU Member States and the European Commission to: 

  1. Finance the recruitment of municipal and local public bodies staff 
  1. Make jobs more appealing and support local pooling of expertise 
  1. Provide training and reallocation programmes to upskill municipal and related local public bodies staff 
  1. Provide a framework enabling local governments to develop their own green budget, investments, and workforce  

Read the full publication HERE, read and sign the full manifesto of the campaign HERE, and join our webinar the 4th July. 

What will cities concretely get out of this hub? 

Concretely, cities within this hub will develop knowledge and skills on three main topics:  

Setting the right frame for the decarbonisation (through mapping and planning, using local resources, developing strategic roadmaps, exploring techno-economic possibilities) 

  • Decarbonising heating and cooling systems (through different technical solutions, stakeholder engagement, urban planning, upskilling, ownership of district heating & cooling) 

Decarbonising the built environment (through building renovation, energy efficiency and sufficiency, funding, biomaterials, etc.) 

Members will benefit from the capitalisation on past and ongoing projects (tools, guidelines, and knowledge sharing). Those projects have specific focus on topics such as developing positive energy districts (Cities4PEDs), planning tools (HotMaps), transition roadmaps (Decarb City Pipe 2050), building renovation and efficiency (Efficient Buildings Community with a focus on the Mediterranean area, EEW4), financing renovation (ORFEE), or affordable housing (ShapeEU). 

Have a look at our upcoming activities, and don’t forget to register for Energy Cities’ Hubs for more information! 

Contact Amélie Ancelle (“fossil-free cities” Hub Coordinator), for any question you might have: