The Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions debated the 2022 European Commission’s Work Programme and the ‘Fit for 55 package’ at the Conference on the Future of Europe. The purpose is to update the EU’s climate and energy laws to reflect the 55% net emissions reduction target that the EU set for 2030. Other topics included developing trans-European energy infrastructure, the new EU strategy on climate adaptation and the mainstreaming of gender equality under the European Green Deal. ​

The ENVE meeting, chaired by Rastislav Trnka (SK/EPP), Chairman of Košice Self – Governing Region and First Vice-chair of the ENVE commission, said: “We must work together to achieve the objectives of the ‘Fit for 55 package’, starting with the sectors that have the highest energy efficiency potential such as buildings, transport and industry. The revision of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and that of the Directives on Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and the Energy Performance of Buildings is a unique opportunity to support other Local and Regional Authorities implement these policies on the ground. We are ready to take the helm.”

Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Director for Energy Policy, Strategy and Coordination at the European Commission’s DG ENER, reiterated that local and regional authorities are ‘strategic to deliver the energy transition’. They pointed out the vital role that the new National Ambassadors of the Covenant of Mayors can play in motivating local and regional authorities to join the Covenant and receive its support to deliver sustainable energy and climate plans that take Europe closer to climate neutrality.

The European Commission plans to propose a “Fit for 55” legislative package this July. At the same time, the Council of the EU adopted a regulation establishing a €17.5 billion Just Transition Fund (JTF) to alleviate the socio-economic costs for communities across the EU that are heavily dependent on fossil fuels or GHG-intensive industries that now need to diversify their local economy.

Barbara Mariani, Policy Manager for Climate at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), emphasised the need to set a precise date to end subsidies on fossil fuels in the EU. By intervening in the “Fit for 55” debate, Mariani called for a phase-out of the free allocation of emission allowances and stressed that the decarbonisation of the agriculture sector is ‘lagging’.

Robert Sorin Negoiță (RO/PES), Mayor of Bucharest District 3, commented, “Investing in trans-European energy infrastructure is key to achieve the new climate targets and the 2050 climate-neutrality objective and to provide clean, affordable energy, leaving no one behind. We are pleased that the future framework will preserve the key role of regional groups in the identification and selection process of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) and Projects of Mutual Interest (PMI). If properly involved, cities and regions can ensure projects’ optimal impact, strengthening the presence of ‘citizens-prosumers’ and local energy communities.” The draft opinion was adopted unanimously.

Rapporteur Markku Markkula (FI/EPP), Chair of the Espoo City Board and President of the Helsinki Region, declared, “Regional and local roadmaps and Green-Deal-Going-Local action plans based on political leadership are the way forward. We nevertheless need EU support instruments and financing to mobilise public-private investments, which remain key. Cities and regions are the ones demonstrating how we can reach climate neutrality through smart and systemic approaches.”

Members exchanged views on the opinion ‘Gender equality and climate change: towards gender mainstreaming in the European Green Deal’. Rapporteur Kata TÜTTŐ (HU/PES), Deputy Mayor of Budapest, said: “Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. This is why gender equality and gender mainstreaming must be present in action at all levels within the European Green Deal. For a fairer and just recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, cities and regions must prevent a gender-blind implementation of the green transition.” The Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s DG CLIMA, Clara de la Torre, underlined the need to leverage the full potential of the transition while leaving no one behind. 

Access the agenda and working documents of the ENVE commission meeting of 7 June 2021.

Source: European Committee of the Regions