The Covenant of Mayors Europe launches pillar on energy poverty
19 May 2022
The Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Europe (EU-CoM) bases its work on three pillars:
- “Mitigation to climate change through energy efficiency and renewable energy action
- Adaptation to climate change through actions ensuring municipalities are more resilient to the changing climate
- Access to Energy, which in an EU context is directly translated to Energy Poverty.” (1)
On May 11, 2022 the Covenant of Mayors Europe launched the pillar on energy poverty in the course of an online live webinar event with more than 120 participating interested parties (2). This launch of the energy poverty pillar represents another important contribution to the energy poverty alleviation in Europe, especially in these challenging times of increasing energy costs.
Webinar participants learnt that the topic of energy poverty has forged ahead in the political sphere of Europe during the last decade(s). Eero Ailio (Advisor at European Commission Directorate-General for Energy) highlighted, how policy programmes have expanded in the course of time:
- From awakening in 2009, when energy poverty was mentioned in the Directive (2009/72/EC) concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity, as part of the (so-called) 3rd energy package;
- via the so-called Energy Union, a set of conclusions on the future of energy systems in Europe, which has been adopted in 2019 against the background of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package completed shortly before;
- to the European Green Deal, presented in December 2019 and introducing just transition (leave no one behind) as a key pillar.
Nowadays, energy poverty alleviation is recognized as a key challenge and target on a European level and as such, it constitutes an integral part of political measures and policy initiatives relating to the overall goals of climate neutrality and climate change adaptation (e.g. Social Climate Fund, Energy Efficiency Directive). And there is more to come within the Fit for 55 package, to ensure that EU policies are aligned with the EU climate goals. Anyway, making these policies actionable on a local level is a challenge that EU cities are addressing on a day to day basis.
According to Eero Ailio, the Covenant takes the role of a “trail blazer”, enabling top down and bottom up cooperation across Europe and helping to operationalize energy poverty alleviation on a local level. The energy poverty reduction goal and related indicators will be added to the EU-CoM reporting template in cities, as Davide Cassanmagnago explained, to facilitate the assessment of energy poverty for local authorities, which are part of the European Covenant of Mayors Community. Additionally, a guide will be published on the EU-CoM’s web page on Energy Poverty Resources to facilitate cities' work in embedding energy poverty alleviation actions into their sustainable energy and climate action planning processes.
During the webinar, Jeppe Mikel Jensen explained, how the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub (EPAH) collaborates with the Covenant of Mayors Office in Europe to provide practical guidance (e.g. in the form of case studies) and technical assistance to signatories in order to help them reach their local energy poverty goals. One tool provided by EPAH is the so-called EPAH ATLAS, which constitutes a collection of inspirational cases and an online interactive database to discover local and international projects implementing measures to address energy poverty. The tool helps local governments find a starting point by showing them that “they are not far away from another municipality, which already collected some experiences in energy poverty alleviation”, according to Jeppe Mikel Jensen.
The Horizon 2020 funded projects Sun4All and POWERPOOR, constitute two of the more than 200 cases presented in the EPAH ATLAS, delivering specific examples of how local authorities can collaborate to create synergies, learning experiences and effective measures as well as innovative finance mechanisms towards energy poverty alleviation.
Many European institutions, organisations etc. will continue working with European cities to bring the new pillar of the EU Covenant of Mayors to the core of their Sustainable Energy and Climate Action planning processes.