What way forward for European regions and cities in the energy transition towards a climate neutral Europe by 2050? This question took centre stage during the C-Track 50 high level even on “Implementing the Paris Agreement: EU cities and regions in energy transition” taking place during this year’s European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels on 9 October 2019.
In open group and plenary discussions, the session spotlighted opportunities, solutions and possible pathways of a European energy transition from different thematic and contextual backgrounds, namely coal regions, islands, energy poverty, smart cities and energy communities.
The session, organised by the European Committee of the Regions, the European Commission’s DG Energy and C-Track 50 project partner ICLEI Europe within the framework of the project, underlined the clear ambition of all representatives from local to European level for Europe to raise the bar internationally and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Contributions focused on how to decarbonise Europe’s energy supply in and with its regions, cities and citizens. Embracing Europe’s multi-level governance mechanisms and the diverse preconditions, particularly in coal and island regions, participants stressed the need for a holistic, equitable and ambitious strategy taking into account regional and local perspectives and setting aside concrete measures and instruments.
Panel speakers Jerzy Buzek (European Parliament, ITRE Committee), Witold Stępień (Lódzkie Regional Assembly), Eero Ailio (DG ENER), Yunus Arikan (ICLEI) and Sarah Zamoum (Rise for Climate Belgium) highlighted the need to offer citizens viable alternatives and support to replace incomes from the fossil fuel sector and to unlock the assets of the transition. In line with that, the subsequent world café debates furthermore sought to define an according mix of well-synchronised short-, medium-, and long-term measures. Debating not only targeted, financial support for coal regions, participants also debated carbon taxation models and encouraged the acceleration of demonstration and pilot projects to establish new technologies and bring citizens on board as active stakeholders of the change.
Speakers and participants strongly reaffirmed their commitment to multilevel governance processes and to cooperate and exchange on best practices for a fair and just energy transition that is beneficial for all.
The session also received contributions from Paul Baker (Coal Regions in Transition), Gustaf Landhal (GrowSmarter), Wioletta Dunin-Majewska (DG ENER), Josh Roberts (Rescoop) and Laura Bazen (Climate Rise Belgium).
"A Just Transition Fund to support transition in our coal regions, as the most vulnerable among carbon intensive regions, is even more justified and urgent in light of EU 2050 long-term climate strategy and the “Green Deal”. Separate MFF budget line and new, additional money for the Fund are crucial". – Jerzy Buzek, European Parliament