The Social Climate Fund proposal has been designed to compensate energy price increases. Its potential would be much greater if it was turned into a strategic instrument to address comprehensively the multi-faceted issues preventing European citizens to meet their heat and mobility needs.
Today’s energy prices are massively impacting household bills. While this unprecedented crisis must be tackled swiftly by EU leaders, it should also prove an opportunity to deliver an instrument with long-lasting impact that delivers structural change rather than corrective measures. It is in this perspective that a meaningful landing of the Social Climate Fund must be envisaged.
Energy poverty is a crippling problem across Europe (more than 30 million Europeans suffer from it), and the staggering increase in energy prices raises the pressure on the most vulnerable. Whatever the decisions concerning the extension of the carbon pricing system to buildings and road transport, a social climate fund is more than necessary to face the already extremely strong inequalities inherent to the energy transition.
This fund and the amounts dedicated to it must be up to the ambitious goals of a just transition. Local and regional authorities are best placed to offer a response adapted to the local context. Many practical cases show the effectiveness of local action to mitigate energy poverty and democratize the energy transition.
However, the current governance model of the Social Climate Fund is based on a top-down governance approach mirroring that of the Resilience and Recovery Facility (RRF) which risks defeating the purpose of the fund.