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D for DEVOLUTION: Giving cities the means to act

The emerging energy system relies on a dense, very interconnected net of players and infrastructures. Thus, it needs cities that can fully play their role either as drivers, facilitators or supporters in sustainable energy projects. The political framework should equip them with the right competences to do so.

Get the facts

Thanks to cities, we will get back to a system, where energy production and consumption happen close to each other ! There was the “plug-and-play” culture of the 20th century, where large power utilities provided abundant quantities of cheap energy from locations outside Europe. This is slowly giving way now to a culture where farmers, households, architects, urban planners, companies and various other social groups team up with one another to save or produce energy.
This new “resource consciousness” – and the alliances that are emerging from it – is championed by a coalition of over 7,500 cities across Europe that signed the Covenant of Mayors. By pledging to reduce greenhouse gases, cities explore and exploit their local energy sources and potential, whether in the form of solar, biomass, wind, non-recyclable waste, sewage, residual heat or geothermal etc. In countries such as Denmark, Finland or Sweden cities have more competences over energy planning. No wonder the share of renewable energy in their national energy mix is way above the European average 2020 target. There is a lot to learn from the Nordic countries as well as from decentralised states like Germany, Austria and The Netherlands. Their strength lies in granting autonomy and devolving competences to local and regional authorities, the most appropriate government level to implement crucial energy and climate targets.

Follow the lead

A growing number of cities across Europe are eager to take control over their energy future. They commit to going climate neutral or 100% renewable by 2030 or 2050 at the latest. Strategic actions taken by cities to reach these objectives include :

  • Re-municipalising/de-privatising energy generation, distribution, services and supply
  • Screening emissions and mapping resources for long-term action plans
  • Building local partnerships and alliances to widen their scope of action
  • Inventing and trying new financing solutions
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Energy devolution across cities

Cities’ commitments ought to find an echo in the energy planning discussions happening at national or supra-national levels !

Push for more Energy devolution and EU legislation


©photo : shutterstock_Tashatuvango

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