Local governments: With great power come green responsibilities?

24 June 2024

Local governments: With great power come green responsibilities?

Local and regional governments are on the frontlines of climate action and social innovation within the energy sector. However, challenges such as insufficient financing, human resources, and skills threaten to hinder the implementation of vital climate and energy policies across the EU.

Ensuring that the benefits of transitioning to renewable energy are distributed equitably is crucial. Innovative schemes like energy communities hold promise in achieving this goal, but they require significant support, especially from municipalities, to evolve into truly socially-driven energy models.

Local governments have a multitude of roles to play in nurturing energy communities and socially inclusive renewable energy schemes. From assuming leadership roles to creating supportive environments and leveraging existing networks and expertise, their involvement is paramount.

Considering this, the Sun4All project has identified a series of recommendations for local and regional authorities. These recommendations cover various aspects including funding, policy, technical assistance, and governance:

  1. Funding: Local governments should allocate dedicated funding to renewable energy projects with clear social missions and ensure simplified application procedures. They should tap into national and European funds available for this purpose.
  2. Policy: Local governments should adopt long-term objectives for local, inclusive community-owned renewable energy production systems within their territories.
  3. Policy: Local governments should adapt internal rules such as urban planning and procurement rules to promote renewable energy projects. This includes introducing conditions related to citizen participation, local ownership, and social criteria.
  4. Policy: Municipalities should design community energy programs for social housing and social dwellings.
  5. Technical assistance: Local governments should establish local one-stop shops for energy-related issues, including energy communities, and offer specific training related to energy poverty and inclusiveness. They should utilize technical assistance and capacity-building opportunities available at the EU level.
  6. Governance: Municipalities should rely on existing inter-municipal cooperation structures to involve smaller municipalities in renewable energy schemes.
  7. Governance: Local and regional governments should foster cross-departmental collaboration, especially between energy and social services.
  8. Governance: Municipalities should establish participatory policy processes at the local level to increase citizen participation in the energy transition beyond the concept of energy communities.

In conclusion, by implementing these recommendations, local governments can fulfil their green responsibilities and drive meaningful change towards a more sustainable future. For more information and recommendations, consult the Policy brief drafted by the Jacques Delors Institute for Sun4All.

Image (Photo by Julia Koblitz on Unsplash)

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European Union

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N°101032239.