Committee of the Regions backs European Commission’s plans to reduce energy consumption

Some rights reserved by CoR
9 October 2012 97th Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions © Committee of the Regions / Wim Daneels
Some rights reserved by CoR
9 October 2012 97th Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions
© Committee of the Regions / Wim Daneels

THUNDER BAY – International News – In Ontario there is great debate over the effectiveness of the provincial energy plan. The Liberal government is seeking to expand the green energy opportunities, and the use of biomass. The opposition Progressive Conservatives are seeing in the Liberal plan high energy costs that they say will harm our manufacturing sector and harm Ontario’s traditional competitive advantage.

In Ontario the PC opposition appears to be more against the subsidies to wind energy than opposition to green energy.

In the European Union, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) have backed the European Commission’s plans to reduce energy consumption and commit to shifting towards more sustainable energy resources, but has urged that far more needs to be done to support local and regional authorities if these objectives are to be achieved.

The European Commission unveiled its Energy Roadmap 2050 in December last year which seeks to achieve the EU’s target of reducing greenhouse emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 while protecting energy supply and maintaining competitiveness. Ugo Cappellacci (IT/EPP), President of the Region of Sardinia and rapporteur of the Energy Roadmap 2050 opinion adopted today, said: “We wholeheartedly support the Commission’s strategy but proper funding and support is needed if we are to unlock the potential of local and regional authorities in delivering these ambitious goals”.

During the discussion on the Roadmap, Europe’s cities and regions argued that the current plans are not sufficient to support local and regional authorities whose role is key in supporting the drive to a low-carbon society. Ugo Cappellacci (IT/EPP) said: “Local and regional authorities are on the front line when it comes to delivering planning, managing public contracts, managing production and controlling energy consumption. They are involved in implementing national energy plans and are also responsible for certain forms of energy production, processing, transport, storage and waste treatment infrastructure”.

The CoR has called for these responsibilities to be reflected in the provision of proper funding. The opinion calls for the simplification and improved access to funding from the European Investment Bank with priority given to projects on energy efficiency and renewable energy. It goes further suggesting the adoption of additional measures such as banning national subsidies for fossil fuels and instead money should be invested directly into renewable energy. Additionally, the CoR’s opinion takes into account growing public concern and costs associated with nuclear production and dismantlement. Subsidies should instead be used for alternative renewable forms of energy to achieve the shift towards a sustainable energy supply.

The CoR also raised concerns about the lack of reference to the energy efficiency of buildings in the Roadmap. Though buildings use about 40% of all primary energy in the EU, insufficient investment was being directed into reducing building energy emissions, an area of responsibility for local and regional authorities.

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