Webinar: Why 100% RE is leaving no one behind – the key to sustainable development

Webinar hosted by the Climate & Energy Team of the World Future Council

Tuesday, 26 June 2018; 1pm GMT

Energy is a prerequisite for development and a life of dignity. Access to electricity is essential to overall human progress, social welfare, and technological advancement and unlocks access to many human rights. Without reliable access to electricity, societies would have never reached the standards of living that many countries across the world enjoy today. While it would be naïve to understate the vital role that fossil fuel energy has played in improving livelihoods, it would be irresponsible, short-sighted and dangerous to ignore the threats of climate change, environmental degradation and concentration of political and economic power that this type of fossil-fuel-dependent development has produced. A significant shift is needed to ensure that energy can continue to play its fundamental role in driving development, supporting human progress and improving livelihoods across the world.

This webinar embraces this idea to promote the relationship between the transition to 100% Renewable Energy (RE) and sustainable development in the run-up to the High-level Political Forum. It describes how 100%RE can be the most significant catalyst for socio-economic development whilst also creating an equitable society for today’s and future generations. How this can play out will be discussed using hands-on examples from Tanzania and Bangladesh. All of which are currently working on defining and implementing the 100%RE vision.

The webinar aims to mobilise NGOs, development organisations and governments around the world to join the global 100%RE movement. To improve the work on the interlinkages of 100%RE and SDGs the webinar will actively engage the audience in a discussion on mobilisation, the necessary framework to monitor progress on 100%RE and SDG implementation and other relevant topics.

Draft Agenda

SessionSpeaker
Welcome & IntroductionAnna Skowron, World Future Council
The 100%RE visionRian van Staden, 100%RE Platform
The link between 100%RE and SDGs and the process behind itJoachim Fünfgelt, Bread for the World
Local development and the transition to 100%RESixbert Mwanga, CAN Tanzania; Jahangir Masum, Coastal Development Partnership Bangladesh; Christine Nettersheim, the greenwerk.
Discussion
Closing RemarksAnna Skowron, World Future Council

 

How to join

You can join the webinar online by clicking on the following link: https://zoom.us/j/6929919343

To receive follow-up information please RSVP by COB Monday, 25 June https://goo.gl/forms/JShaPUYgTZS7dlyy1

 

Contact

Anna Skowron

Project Manager Climate & Energy

 

 

 

The Importance of Energy Communities – Side Event during the Policy Conference 2018

When it comes to the development of the energy transition, local communities play a central role in leading the way to a decentralised energy democracy. The Policy Conference organised by the European Commission aiming to share and discuss new policy developments, best practices and sustainable energy ideas. As part of the conference, we will hold a session on the importance of energy communities presenting new roles and pathways communities are currently developing around Europe.

Urban Solutions: the WFC at the WUF in Kuala Lumpur

OBOR Cities Share Experience on Regenerative Urban Development at WUF 9

8th February 2018, at the 9th World Urban Forum in Kulua Lumpur Malaysia, the World Future Council in cooperation with the Energy Foundation organized a network event to facilitate cities from One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR) countries to exchange experience on regenerative city – regeneration of energy, resource, urban ecosystem and urban space in urban development.

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Clearing the Air in India with the fresh breeze of biomass technology

Every year India struggles with natural conditions of drifting dust from the desert Thar[1] which are aggravated by human impact[2] and lead to environmentally, socially and economically costly air pollution. With the enabling policy framework, a proven technology could be part of a feasible scheme tackling all anthropogenic drivers at once – and ideally lead to a reduction of air pollution by up to 90%. 

Starting a few months ago, India’s North has made headlines when air pollution reached an air quality index (AQI) of 1,001[3] – exceeding safe levels by a multitude of ten. In the national Capital Region of Delhi alone 45 million people[4] have been affected, causing a spike in complaints of respiratory problems and an emergency state, declared by the Indian Medical Association.[5]

Even though the news around the topic subsided, the officially monitored AQI which are even higher in the proximity of roads[6] within major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, continue to range around hazardous levels[7]. Inhalation of this air is comparable to smoking several packs of cigarettes a day[8] [9] and serious respiratory effects in the general population can be expected while even putting susceptible groups at risk of premature death[10].

Figure 1: Haze over North India in late 2017. (Source: NASA, 2017)

The death toll of air pollution in India was the highest of all countries around the world with 2,5 million in 2015.[11] A global UNICEF study found recently, that over 90% of children are breathing polluted air not matching WHO guidelines and 17 million infants are exposed to levels six times the approved norms.[12] Furthermore, household air pollution was recently discovered to be insalubrious even before birth, reducing birth weight, pregnancy duration and doubling perinatal mortality[13]. This effect is owed to the burning of traditional fuels which exposes mostly women to pulmonary and vision hazards of indoor air pollution.[14]

A study conducted by the World Bank concluded: The negative health impact of outdoor air pollution alone costs India 3% of its GDP[15] which translates to an equivalent loss of roughly 35 billion Euros every year. Research found a direct impact of the atmospheric pollution on agriculture with wheat yields of 2010 being on average up to 36% lower than usual all over India due to reduced intensity of sunlight and toxic ozone reaching the plants.[16] Additionally, increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere[17] contribute to the greenhouse effect leading to more extreme and destructive weather events.

Two main causes for a myriad of manmade emission sources

In agricultural areas such as Punjab, the breadbasket of India, which singlehandedly produces 20% of India’s wheat and 10% of its rice[18], smoke blankets rise seasonally for several weeks despite a governmental ban when leftover straw stubble from mechanical harvesting is burned openly in the fields to clean the soil for new seeding [19] (see fig. 2).

Large-scale crop burning in India in 2017. (Source: Propakistani, 2016)

Then, metropolitan areas are covered by the drifting haze of crop burning in addition to the smoke of millions of wood cook stoves in and outside of the urban areas as well as countless emitters of sulfates, nitrates and black carbon such as automobiles, coal-fired power plants, incinerators, smelters or brick kilns.[20]

A comparison of several studies of Delhi shows the difficulty of solving the problem due to the relatively equal share of the main human-made sources of urban air pollution: Open burning of garbage and other diffused emitters contribute on average about a quarter, domestic or biomass burning as well as dust ranges around 15% while both traffic and industry (including coal power plants) are responsible for approximately one third.[21] [22]

However, understanding the reasons of air pollution, the interconnectedness of land and city and the amplification of fog and aerosol hazes[23] permits a vision for a future of clear skies and fresh breath. The main detrimental causes showed to be unsolvable if tackled one by one which is demonstrated by governmental emergency measures falling short every year.

Multiplying the negative causes turns into a feasible opportunity

The usually unused agricultural leftover biomass like paddy straw suddenly becomes an additional source of income for farmers as it already begins to prove itself as a viable source for power generation in rural India, offering employment for thousands of people. The calorific value per kilogram of coal and paddy straw are comparable while it burns cleanly in boilers with an efficiency as high as 99%. Combustion technology is commercialized and alone in the state of Punjab 332.5 MW of agro-waste based power projects are planned.[24]

These power plants can sell their power due to the “New & Renewable Sources of Energy Policy” and generate income under a Clean Development Mechanism while suppling millions of kWh to the grid for years. [25] Even individual households value the significant financial benefit of a carbon credit scheme which earns them up to 500 Rupees per month in a pilot project and convinces them to maintain the use of improved cook stoves.[26]

There are numerous reasons aside from health benefits for extending the understanding of sustainable cooking beyond improved cook stoves[27]. A new one is provided by a recent study, that noted villagers truly wish for cooking like in the cities – preferably with LPG which is out of reach for many due to its higher costs compared to wood.[28]  The so-called producer gas of low-cost straw-based power plants is an ideal replacement of a cleanly burning fuel, reducing indoor air pollution significantly in poor or disconnected rural and urban households alike.

Moreover, the processing of biomass and organic waste opens the opportunity of bio-oil production which can be handled exactly like a petroleum-based product to power suited diesel generators and fuel traffic in the cities.[29] This not only reduces transport emissions greatly but adds value to the commonly high share of organic waste (~30%) in Indian cities[30], attracting the informal sector in waste collection and reducing open garbage burning.

If now the government would take a leap forward by providing legislative support for this scheme in a holistic framework and additionally phase out coal power plants, manmade air pollution could ideally be reduced by roughly up to 90% through counteracting the aforementioned emission sources. In addition to environmental and social health improvements, the positive economic impact would be substantial: An IRENA study estimated a total benefit of 59 to 224 billion USD in savings following a restructuring of the power sector.[31] India’s INDC target of 40% renewable energy in 2030 is a promising step into the right direction.[32]

 

– written by Lisa Harseim –

[1] https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=84731
[2] http://www.urbanemissions.info/wp-content/uploads/images/PMSA-Delhi-UEinfo-2013-Study.png
[3] https://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=91240
[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/asia/delhi-pollution-gas-chamber.html?mc=adintl&mcid=facebook&mccr=edit&ad-keywords=GlobalTruth
[5] https://www.visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=86982
[6] http://www.dw.com/en/study-offers-new-insight-into-new-delhis-air-pollution-woes/a-18105674
[7] http://clonewdelhi.com/custom/AQI/missionindiaaqi.php#
[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/asia/delhi-pollution-gas-chamber.html?mc=adintl&mcid=facebook&mccr=edit&ad-keywords=GlobalTruth
[9] http://www.theweek.in/columns/shashi-tharoor/dont-hold-your-breath.html
[10] https://www.visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=86982
[11] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/asia/delhi-pollution-gas-chamber.html?mc=adintl&mcid=facebook&mccr=edit&ad-keywords=GlobalTruth
[12] http://cleancookstoves.org/about/news/01-04-2018-new-study-shows-clean-cooking-can-lead-to-increased-birth-weight-in-newborns.html
[13] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412017312448
[14] https://www.solarquarter.com/index.php/resources/83-industry-reports/6245-remap-renewable-energy-prospects-for-india
[15] http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2013/07/17/india-green-growth-necessary-and-affordable-for-india-says-new-world-bank-report
[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4246269/
[17] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-81-322-2014-5_4#page-1
[18] https://www.visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=86982
[19] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-5055737/Crop-burning-ban-goes-flames-Punjab-Haryana.html
[20] https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=84731
[21] http://www.dw.com/en/study-offers-new-insight-into-new-delhis-air-pollution-woes/a-18105674
[22] www.urbanemissions.info
[23] https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=84731
[24] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-81-322-2014-5_4#page-1
[25] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-81-322-2014-5_4#page-1
[26]https://www.povertyactionlab.org/sites/default/files/India_%20Cooking%20up%20a%20recipe%20for%20clean%20air%20%281%29.pdf
[27] https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/file/2016/10/WFC_BeyondFire_web-version.pdf
[28] https://www.povertyactionlab.org/evaluation/cooking-stoves-indoor-air-pollution-and-respiratory-health-india
[29] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-81-322-2014-5_4#page-1
[30] http://www.academia.edu/6034600/State_of_municipal_solid_waste_management_in_Delhi_the_capital_of_India
[31] http://www.irena.org/publications/2017/May/Renewable-Energy-Prospects-for-India
[32] http://www.ren21.net/gsr-2017/pages/tables/tables/#table-R15

100% renewable energy is low-cost option for Tanzania to become middle income country

PRESS RELEASE – Study released during political conference in Dar Es Salaam

Dar Es Salam, Tanzania, 17th October 2017 – By deploying 100% renewable energy, Tanzania can provide access to reliable energy for all its citizens, while increasing living standards to the level of industrialized countries by 2050. This is the conclusion of a scientific study that is released today in Dar Es Salaam by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Climate Action Network Tanzania (CAN Tanzania), Bread for the World and the World Future Council (WFC). The study also reveals that generating electricity from renewable sources is about 30% cheaper than from fossil resources.

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100% renewable energy and poverty reduction in Tanzania

The Project’s Vision

The goal of the project is to develop a coherent strategy on how to implement 100% RE as part of Tanzania’s Sustainable Low Carbon Development and Poverty Reduction Goals.

Through an inclusive and interactive approach engaging local stakeholders and key decision-makers in the energy transformation process in Tanzania, this project intends to:

  1. Inspire stakeholders and build up hands-on knowledge on how 100% RE adds value to local economic development and community sustainability
  2. Strengthen synergies, networks and platforms for multi-stakeholder dialogue and follow up at the national level among government, parliamentary committees, policy-makers, civil society, trade unions, churches and media on LCD, poverty reduction and 100% RE.
  3. Identify necessary legislation and policy reforms.


Policy Roadmap for 100% RE and Poverty Eradication in Tanzania

This report suggests concrete political measures and outlines necessary governmental action to operationalize Tanzania’s 100%RE and poverty eradication target.




Scenario: 100% RE for all in Tanzania

This scientific feasibility study unveils that deploying 100% renewable energy in Tanzania can provide access to reliable energy for all its citizens, while increasing living standards to the level of industrialized countries by 2050. It proves that generating electricity from renewable sources is about 30% cheaper than from fossil resources.

Activities

Kick-off workshop / February 2016

On February 25, 2016 The World Future Council, Bread for the World and CAN-Tanzania hosted the kick-off workshop in Dar es Salaam for our 18-month program in Tanzania.

The kick-off workshop brought together 15 Tanzanian thought-leaders from government, academia and civil society to identify opportunities for policy change on the particular topic. Among the confirmed participants was Gertrude Mongella, WFC Councilor and Special Advisor to the ECA Executive Secretary and UNESCO Director General. The workshop helped to build capacity and create ownership among Tanzanian opinion leaders for 100% RE as a tool for poverty reduction, as well as to strengthen synergies, networks and platforms for multi-stakeholder dialogue.

The valuable contributions and expertise of the participants enabled us to compile a solid report which you can find here. It gathers and summarizes the main interventions, perspectives and outputs made by the participants of the workshop. Hereby, this report further provides a description of the current energy policy debate and defines the starting point for discussing how to scale up RE to spur sustainable development and eradicate poverty in Tanzania.

Study Tour to Bangladesh / April 2016

As a major opportunity to bring forward the dialogue which already started during the kick-off workshop in Dar es Salaam, a study tour to Bangladesh was organized from April 17-23, 2016, chaired by Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury Bir Bikram, Bangladesh Ministry of Energy. The study tour brought together a group of 10 representatives from Tanzania national government, parliamentarians and civil society leaders in the renewable energy field in Tanzania. The goal was to learn about the Bangladesh experience in rapidly expanding first time access to electricity among its citizens with 100% renewable energy.

The tour was organized with the support of Bright Green Energy Foundation (BGEF), a leading renewable energy organization in Bangladesh which has been successfully working with Solar Home System, Solar Irrigation Pump, bio-gas, Improve Cook Stove, and women empowerment since 2010.

“This study tour changed our minds about the potential of Renewable Energy as an effective tool to provide energy access to all people. We need to bring the experience from Bangladesh to Tanzania, especially on developing a comprehensive finance model. It is our hope that this trip has just opened our doors and starts a long journey of collaborations and working together”. This was the conclusion of our Tanzanian delegation visiting WFC Councillor Dipal Barua and his team, learning about solar-home-systems, solar irrigation systems as well as biogas plants for cooking.

Consultation workshop / July 2016

On July 12th, Can Tanzania, The World Future Council and Bread for the World organised a consultation workshop in Dar es Salaam on 100% Renewable Energy for Poverty Reduction in Tanzania. Around 50 stakeholders from the Parliament, Government, Civil Society and Academia participated in the consultation workshop, outlining the determinants of change and policy formulation in the RE sector in Tanzania, the challenges to policy reform, and providing recommendations for the development of RE legislation and implementation.

The development of a more comprehensive legislative framework would not only make a significant contribution to the existing country’s energy production and supply system, but would also move Tanzania quickly towards achieving the goal of becoming a middle income country, as envisioned in the Tanzania National Development Vision 2025.

“We want to tackle the challenges that so many people in our country are facing every day,” says Doto Mashaka Biteko, Member of the Tanzanian Parliament and Chair of the Energy and Minerals Committee. “Therefore, the government is aiming to provide access to 50% of the population by 2020.”

Further, on July 15th, Can Tanzania, The World Future Council and Bread for the World, together with civil society representatives and faith-based organisations visited some examples of Solar Home Systems in Mabwepande, a suburb of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

On the path to regenerative cities

40 Chinese Mayors visit World Future Council Headquarters

As part of the Sino-German Mayor Exchange, over 40 mayors from different provinces of China visited the World Future Council in Hamburg last Friday, 22 September 2017. The workshop’s aim was to inform about the experience with cities’ resilience, building regenerative and climate resilient cities and to exchange views on sponge cities.

Focusing on the German experience on urban water sustainable management, Stefan Schurig from the World Future Council gave an introduction to regenerative cities in connection with sponge cities. Thereafter, Professor Ralf Otterpohl, Director of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection, TUHH (Technical University) Hamburg-Harburg turned to the topic of combining food and water security. Mr Daniel Schumann-Hindenberg from the Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl, then spoke about urban planning of sponge cities.

After the workshop, the World Future Council invited the participants to a reception into the premises of the Council’s headquarters.

The event was hosted by the German Ministry for Environment, Nature, Building and Nuclear Safety and the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and carried out by GIZ and China Association of Mayors.

 

Stefan Schurig is leaving the World Future Council

Dear Colleagues and Friends, After ten years with the World Future Council, I will be moving on and will be leaving the organisation for a new career step. It was truly an honor for me to serve the organisation since April 2007…

Climate Action – even without the US!

The F20 Platform is looking back to a successful event in Hamburg

The F20 Foundations Platform is an alliance of more than 45 foundations and philanthropic organizations from twelve countries that have joined forces in order to further shape the political discourse on future sustainability measures.

Ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg, representatives from participating foundations got together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In a joint statement, they called upon the G20 states to confirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

 

 

During the event in the prestigious Hamburg Town Hall, which was mainly organised by the World Future Council, WFC-Councillor Dr. Auma Obama and Honorary Councillor Dr. Michael Otto took part in the press conference. Dr. Otto emphasised the importance of the implementation of the Paris Agreement and urged for more ambitious climate action, also in Germany: He pressed for a German withdrawal from fossile fuel and the promotion of renewable energies and carbon-neutral traffic.

During her speech at the event, Dr. Obama stressed that African people must be included when talking about climate action: They should not be doing the same mistakes as the industrialised countries, and would be able to leapfrog developments. Other speakers included Laurence Tubiana, the architect behind the Paris Agreement, the US-american physicist and environmentalist Amory B. Lovins, as well as the British economist Lord Nicholas Stern. Around 400 people attended the event; the side-events before and after the main event included an energy transition tour through Hamburg and other workshops organised by F20 foundations.

Dr. Michael Otto and Dr. Auma Obama during the F20 press conference. Photo Credits: Jochen Quast | www.jochenquast.de | www.con-text.de

 

At the end of the main event in Hamburg, the German minister for the environment, Barbara Hendricks, received the F20 publication. Climate action and sustainable development must become core duties of the leading industrialised and threshold countries. The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is “short sighted and irresponsible”, as the F20 members state. We are positive that the event on the 4th of July here in Hamburg was just the start of a success story for common and transnational action towards a zero carbon economy and a successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

For more information on the F20 Platform, please visit www.foundations-20.org

 

Bringing Europe closer to its citizens

A regional approach to achieving a European Renewable Energy Union

In times of rising populism, internal cleavages and climate scepticism across EU Member States, Europe needs to reconnect with its citizens. Uniting the continent and re-gaining people´s trust in the European integration has never been more relevant. In fact, building a European Renewable Energy Union with regions, cities, municipalities and indeed citizens at its core could be the vehicle to realize this goal. The idea of regional cooperation can fill the ambition gap between national energy strategies and a standardized EU-wide approach. For MEP Claude Turmes, rapporteur of EU´s renewable energy governance reform, the direction is clear: “We are stronger together. [..) Can we think of a more positive project than local energy citizens?” And Brendan Devlin from DG Energy in the European Commission adds “We now see that individuals and communities are the actors that can bring us to meet the Paris Agreement goals”.

EU legislation must foster regional cooperation on the sub-national level.

So, what is needed to put words into action? In a policy debate on cross-border cooperation for renewable energy, organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation EU and the World Future Council, hosted by the European Committee of the Regions, about 50 policy makers and key energy stakeholders concluded that EU legislation must foster regional cooperation on the sub-national level. While the “Clean Energy Package for All Europeans” only supports member states to collaborate on renewable energy development and to interconnect the transmission grid across borders, municipalities and regions lack political support.

Policy Debate on enhancing cross-border renewables cooperation in the EU. Brussels, June 6th 2017.

The project “Smart Energy Union Emmen Haren” (SEREH), which aims at building a regional, decentralized and mostly community-owned cross-border energy system, is a living example of the untapped potential that micro-level cooperation can unlock in accelerating the pace of energy transition in Europe. It is also illustrative of the current regulatory and legal barriers that local and regional pioneers are facing on the ground. “The current regulation is based on centralized systems that work top-down, while we need a distributed system that works bottom-up”, says Melinda Loonstra from the Dutch municipality Emmen. Emmen and its German neighbour Haren want to build a cross-border interconnection between their local renewable energy markets to become carbon neutral. “This link can help to build up a robust, reliable and affordable energy supply based on renewable sources in the Netherlands and Germany.” A direct exchange of electricity between the two regions could be the first step to another type of electricity market – a market where communities and small producers can trade their own energy via a digital platform. This micro-level form of cooperation could bring various advantages for European citizens: community-owned energy sources, keeping revenues in the region, reducing transport costs through local production and use, more affordable energy and the emergence of new businesses. One of the biggest challenges that Emmen and Haren are facing is conflicting national regulation on interconnection. And according to European law, only the Transmission System Operator (TSO) is permitted to transport electricity across border on the high-voltage grid. Also, legislative proposals that are currently discussed in the European parliament do not allow local DSOs to build interconnections on the medium-voltage grid between two countries.

According to Roberto Zangrandi, Secretary General of EDSO for Smart Grids, contradicting and diverse regulatory frameworks are indeed the biggest impediments to a rapid evolution of local networks. Depending on the respective national policies, the autonomy of the DSOs varies from country to country. In addition, the different support schemes, permitting procedures and administrative rules on the two sides of the borders also pose significant obstacles to the cross-border interaction between neighbouring regions or municipalities. Despite the possibilities for European funding of cross-border projects, these funds are in most of the cases considered out of reach for local actors, mostly due to co-financing and the complexity of application and reporting.

It is local actors that catalyse change.

However, it is exactly these local actors that catalyse change. As Jan Carsten Gjerløw from the Akershus County Council, Norway highlighted in the policy debate: “I think citizens and regions are actually the most important drivers. And we will see that governments and law, they will come after, they will follow up.” The City of Oslo has improved air quality standards, which has been the driving force behind the development of new national low carbon solutions in the transport sector. Also Susanne Nies, Corporate Affairs Manager with ENTSO-E underlines that local actors are at the frontline of innovation. “TSOs, regulators and national governments work in a triangle. The local level has to push this triangle.” Meanwhile, Magdalena Jaworska-Dużyńska from the Polish city Karlino highlighted that it is not only the big cities but also the small towns and municipalities that need political support. “People in Karlino want to be green and do more than the national government. But for this, we need Europe´s support.”

According to Claude Turmes, there should be an obligation to incorporate multi-level governance dialogue in the current legislation. The concrete proposal in the new governance regulation aims at establishing a permanent multi-level energy dialogue platform gathering among others regional and local authorities, civil society actors, business communities and investors to discuss different energy scenarios and shape the development of national energy and climate plans is a step in the right direction. It is now essential that Member States will institutionalize this dialogue in the legislative framework.

“The sky is the limit with this EGTC tool.”

A very concrete and in fact promising tool to support local actors especially in border regions is the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). This tool has been designed to facilitate cross-border, trans-national or interregional cooperation in any sector. Regarding renewable energy, the EGTC can provide subnational frontrunner regions with regulatory support and flexibility to adopt a specific framework of rules and regulation in a specific cross-border territory. By creating one single legal entity to attract funding for cross-border areas, the tool will not be dependent on political changes at national level and could bring benefits directly to local communities without the need to involve national governments. This could simplify the complex and cumbersome administrative procedures and enable local and regional actors to develop long-term strategies in the context of a more stable regulatory environment. “The sky is the limit with this EGTC tool”, comments Slaven Klobučar from the European Committee of the Regions.

Alexandra Lafont speaking at the Policy Debate in Brussels on June 6th.

Aiming to strengthen territorial cohesion during its Presidency, the Luxembourg government launched further proposals for improving this legal tool that would allow cooperating cross-border regions to set up their own set of fitted legislation for a specific area or project. In this way, two municipal entities on both sides of the border could negotiate a specific regional legislative agreement that could be reviewed and approved by the national states before it becomes binding. While it would not deprive Member States from sovereignty, it will give possibilities to regions to “pull legislation from one side of the border to the other” and become “living laboratories”. The improved tool could also provide legal certainty to bottom-up initiatives, ensure better control of the outcomes, accelerate the adoption of new rules and promote cross-border experimentation zones. The next step in the process is the implementation of this tool. “The ball really lies with the Commission”, explains Frederick Richters from the Government of Luxembourg. In order to bring these concrete suggestions to fruition, the Commission has to turn them into a legislative proposal, for example, through incorporating them into the EU cohesion policy package.

One of Luxembourg´s supporters in this process is Alexandra Lafont from Mission Opérationelle Transfrontalière. “Often people do not even know which people to speak to on the other side of the border. This is why they need platforms and institutions” , she points out in the policy dialogue in Brussels. In fact, in a Europe that is close to its citizens, EU institutions should be seen not only as a regulator but rather as an enabler that brings together various actors at different levels, promotes an interactive exchange through an institutionalized dialogue and facilitates access to financing for small towns and municipalities and community-owned projects. “Europe is more than legislation” , says Brendan Devlin from DG Energy in the European Commission. “Even though it will be difficult to move from a regulator towards an enabler of policy outcomes, this is what we need.” 

– Radostina Primova (Heinrich Boell Foundatin EU Office), Maren Preuss (Heinrich Boell Foundatin EU Office) and Anna Leidreiter (World Future Council) –

 

To watch the recording of the full policy debate that took place on 6 th June 2017 in the Committee of the Regions in Brussels, please click here. You can also find some photos here and more background information about the topic and other activities in this programme here.