Members of the CoR's Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) are gathering this week in Málaga, Spain. On Thursday, the first day of the meeting, members adopted two opinions on the governance of European Green Deal and on the European Hydrogen Bank, and had a discussion on the impact of the Green Deal in coastal areas. The two-day event is part of the official programme of the Spanish EU Council Presidency.
ENVE members were invited to Southern Spain by the President of Andalusia and member of the CoR, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla (ES/EPP), and the City of Málaga. The two-day meeting was opened by José Enrique Millo (ES/EPP), Secretary General for External Action, European Union and Cooperation of the Regional Government of Andalusia, and ENVE vice-chair Kata Tüttö (HU/PES), Deputy Mayor of Budapest.
"This gathering falls under the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council and I am pleased to note the alignment of our priorities in the realms of energy, environment and climate action. We cannot slow down the process and the ambition of the Green Deal legislation in its final rush ahead of the 2024 European elections and beyond. Even in the less-auspicious political context after the EU elections, the EU has to implement the green roadmap to which the EU is now legally committed, and this cannot happen without local and regional authorities fully involved and financially well-equipped. Cities and regions are already at the forefront of implementing Green Deal objectives on the ground, building climate-resilient livelihoods guided by the principle of active subsidiarity, fairness, social justice and territorial cohesion", Ms Tüttő said.
At the meeting, ENVE members reiterated the need to revise the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action and to reflect on a sounder governance of the European Green Deal. Putting more focus on multi-level governance processes and the role and means dedicated to local and regional authorities are key requests of the relevant CoR opinion drafted by the rapporteur Joško Klisović (HR/PES), President of the Assembly of City of Zagreb.
"The EU cannot afford having an ambitious climate and energy strategy whilst at the same time lacking appropriate implementation tools. The current governance regulation on climate action and energy union falls therefore short. We call for a new governance framework aimed at safeguarding the future of the European Green Deal, and which actively involves cities and regions as essential actors in its implementation. The real challenge lies in making the Green Deal an accessible and affordable solution for all, leaving no one and territory behind. This must be a paramount priority for the next European mandate and even beyond", he stressed.
In the afternoon, the meeting focused on the Green Deal and new energy sources, notably the role of renewable hydrogen in decarbonizing various economy sectors, such as industry and transportation. The European Commission wants to stimulate and scale-up investment in the use and production of renewable hydrogen through a European Hydrogen Bank.
The rapporteur of the CoR opinion Arianna Censi (IT/PES), Milan city councillor in charge of mobility, said: "In our path towards climate neutrality we must combat energy and mobility poverty. Renewables are our gateway to reach energy autonomy and stop polluting our territories. In this respect, renewable hydrogen is an essential energy vector in the ecological transition. Its supply chain is no longer in an experimental phase, but only needs to be scaled-up. It will help our SMEs reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will play a key role in the mobility sector when it comes to heavy and long distances transports".
In a debate with Ramón Fernández-Pacheco Monterreal, Andalusian regional minister for Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy, speakers highlighted the pioneer role of City of Málaga in promoting blue economy, recognising the potential of its coastal and maritime assets to work towards harnessing these resources in an environmentally friendly and economically viable manner.
Members also exchanged views on the Soil Monitoring Law, a key element of EU biodiversity strategy, aiming to achieve healthy soils by 2050. The CoR rapporteur is Frida Nilsson (SE/Renew Europe), Member of Lidköping municipal council. ENVE Commission also decided to draft an own-initiative opinion entitled “Localising energy production: the role of geothermal energy", and appointed as rapporteur Jószef Ribányi (HU/ECR), County Council of Tolna Megye.
The ENVE meeting will continue in Málaga on Friday with a debate on the global dimension of Green Deal and launch of a joint position paper for the COP28, drafted in collaboration with key international networks of local and regional governments within the LGMA Constituency.