This year’s Covenant of Mayors – Europe conference, taking place on March 30 in Brussels, will focus on the local response to the energy crisis. Mayors will present the short-term energy saving measures they put in place faced with the crisis, and how these can serve as examples for Europe’s energy transition and net-zero targets, while ensuring energy security in Europe and protecting the most vulnerable.
“The energy crisis is undoubtedly a major challenge for the city, but also an opportunity to accelerate energy transition measures.” – Rafal Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw and member of the Board of the Covenant of Mayors Europe.
They will exchange with representatives from European institutions and Ambassadors of the EU Climate Pact, to discuss how the European Union can support these efforts on the long-term, transforming them into strategies that redefine lifestyles in the face of climate change.
Disruptive measures in times of crisis
The first panel will focus on the measures that local governments have put into place to tackle the energy crisis. EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, will open the panel with a keynote speech, focusing on the EU’s emergency measures and the RePower EU plan. She will introduce the Cities Energy Saving Sprint, a joint campaign launched last year by the Covenant of Mayors, EU Commission and Committee of the Regions, highlighting the efforts that cities have made in cutting dependency of Russian gas.
This will set up the stage for five Mayors from cities of different sizes from across Europe to present emergency energy saving measures put into place in times of crisis.
- Mathias de Clerq, Mayor of Ghent, Belgium. The city of Ghent was one of the promoters of an open letter to call on European Head of States to tackle the energy crisis through the REPowerEU. Ghent has also implemented several actions to cope with the crisis. For instance, it has strengthened with additional staff its “Energiecentrale” project, a one-stop-shop to provide citizens and businesses with advice about buildings’ renovation and deployment of renewables. See the video-message from Mathias de Clerq.
- Sergi Ferrus, Mayor of Pedgreguer, Spain. The small municipality of Pedreguer has implemented ambitious measures to alleviate the impact of energy prices on its 8,200 inhabitants, from the possibility to re-invest 50% of their energy savings, to the transition of the public transport and lighting systems, and the promotion of renewable energy communities. See the video-message from Sergi Ferrus.
- Zita Pels, Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The city of Amsterdam has committed to reducing its gas consumption by 15% before the next heating season and has already reduced it by 5%.
- Hanna Zdanowska, Mayor of Łódź, Poland. The rising of energy prices poses a serious threat to the decarbonisation of the energy system of Polish cities. To cope with this issue and to avoid further worsening air quality of the city, the Municipality of Lodz has implemented ambitious measures to increase the production of renewable electricity, renovate schools and public buildings, and involve citizens in saving energy.
Protecting and empowering citizens in their response to the energy crisis
Opening the second panel, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, will give a keynote speech, highlighting the importance of local governments’ efforts to engage and work with citizens on both short-term energy crisis response and long-term climate neutrality efforts.
Here, we will hear from four Mayors from cities who have worked extensively on involving citizens in their energy transition, and put in place measures to remove the burden of the energy crisis on vulnerable households, paving the way to a more just transition.
- Åsa Lindhagen, Vice Mayor of Stockholm, Sweden. Stockholm has supported local SMEs, as well as vulnerable households by promoting innovative renewable projects to pay their energy bills. See video message from Åsa Lindhagen.
- Rafal Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw, Poland. Warsaw aimed to reduce 35% of electricity consumption per year, by replacing 52.600 lamp bulbs with LEDs in the city districts. The crisis has greatly impacted Poland and increased energy insecurity. In this situation, the city's best response is to consistently increase its efforts to make buildings energy efficient. They have put extra efforts in improving the conditions of those in energy poverty, as well as to accelerating investment in renewable energy sources that will increase the city's energy security and make it independent from fossil fuels.
- Mario Rajn, Mayor of Križevci, Croatia. The city of Križevci has been a frontrunner in Croatia and Europe in supporting the development of community energy by implementing solar roofs on public buildings from 2018. The crisis just made everyone more acutely aware of how valuable renewable energy sources are. The project “Križevci Sunny Roofs” made citizens aware of the potential of solar energy. Today, with a financial help and the support of the City of Križevci, more and more citizens are implementing solar roofs on their private houses and becoming energy independent.
- Anne-Laure Stanislas, Deputy Mayor of Clermont-Ferrand. After a public consultation with citizens, the city of Clermont-Ferrand has identified collective actions to reduce emissions, such as carbon quotas for families, an action plan to produce energy locally, and a collective carbon budget.
Two young Ambassadors from the EU Climate Pact, Jonas Nitschke and Nadia Paleari, will then share their experience of the energy crisis from citizens’ perspective. They will discuss how youth involvement can help embed these exemplary short-term measures at local level into long-term and all-encompassing climate and energy strategies.
Finally, the event will end with closing remarks from Bart Somers, Vice-President-Minister of the government Flanders, who will showcase how the regional level can accelerate and multiply local climate and energy action through effective multilevel governance, as they have done with the Local Flemish Pact.
Do not miss your opportunity to participate on March 30 in Brussels. Register here.
- Publication date
- 6 March 2023