Ahead of the Committee of the Regions' (CoR) May plenary, Brian Meaney (IE/EA), rapporteur on "Energy Efficiency in cities and rural districts", backed EU Ministers' long-term energy strategy though asked for assurance that cities and regions are central to the plans.
Cllr. Meaney represented the CoR, at the Informal Council of Energy Ministers in Denmark (19-20 April) which reviewed the Energy Efficiency Directive and Energy Roadmap 2050. The Roadmap, proposed by the European Commission (EC), seeks to find cost-effective solutions to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% of 1990 levels by 2050. This target is part of the EU's wider plans of shifting towards a low-carbon economy by 2050 taking into consideration the challenges posed by the growing population, rising global wealth and varying global levels of responses to climate action and energy efficiency. The EC argues that a 80% domestic reduction by 2050 is feasible and affordable requiring only an additional annual average investment of 1.5% of the EU's GDP over the next 40 years.
Cllr. Meaney backed these ambitious plans expressing, "…support for the Danish Presidency's vision on the EU's sustainable energy future and the need to recognise local and regional efforts already undertaken in the field ". The EC has recognised the urgent need to transform Europe's energy system noting, however, that it does not replace national, regional and local efforts to modernise energy supply. Though there was general consensus across Member States in committing to reducing energy usage by 30% by 2030, there was a division of opinion on how much EU financial support should be given to countries to reach these targets. Meaney, however, reiterated the need that local authorities must be considered within the strategy and called for full support to be given, "The Energy Roadmap 2050 needs to be followed up by a political debate and new initiatives proposed by the European Commission to ensure that the role of local and regional authorities is actually matched with appropriate resources, capacities and governance tools", he continued urging the Council to ensure, "clear earmarking of the Structural Funds for the purpose of energy efficiency".
Mr Meaney stressed that he hopes the CoR's views would be seriously considered during the June Energy Council Conclusions and the CoR's voice heard during the Energy Directors-general meeting next month in May. This meeting will follow his presentation of the CoR's opinion on the "Energy Efficiency in cities and rural districts" which is expected to be adopted during the plenary session on Friday 4 May which contributes to the EU's strategy to moving towards a low-carbon society. The CoR's opinion is in line with an ambitious EU directive which would maximise energy efficiency of buildings and industry. It proposes that local and regional authorities should take an integrated strategic approach to city and rural planning, ensuring consistency and placing energy efficiency at the heart of development.
Note: The plenary will be streamed live at www.cor.europa.eu on Thursday 3 May from 3 pm and Friday 4 May from 9 am.
You can find further information about the Committee of the Region's May 2012 Plenary below: