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EUCF @ EUSEW 2020 | Cities Driving the Green Recovery

The European City Facility (EUCF) hosted a session at the first – ever online European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) at a crucial time: In the frame of the recovery – and resilience package, the European Commission (EC) put forward several new initiatives as a result of both, the COVID – 19 pandemic and the climate crisis.

EUCF @ EUSEW 2020 | Cities Driving the Green Recovery

The scale of what might change in the future has altered considerably. Against this background,the EUCF is becoming ever more important for a resilient future – a future, in which upgrade programmes of the EUCF will be essential for the success of the European Green Deal!

Diana Barglazan, (Policy Officer, Energy Efficiency, DG ENER, European Commission) opened in highlighting the role of local authorities, but also the need for support:

There are many very good projects and initiatives. But many of them are quite small and scattered – we need to scale them up! Most of the best practices we look at come from cities, from the local authorities, from the local level” (Barglazan).

Particularly when looking at the recovery measures that are in the pipeline, it is important to bridge the gap between project promoters, project ideas and the financial world interested in financing large, mature projects. As a “very simple form of support to help the local authorities to develop their great ideas into investment projects; to turn a technical idea or project into a language that is easily understandable by the financial community; that is bankable,” the EUCF will boost sustainable energy investment projects and unlock private and public financing sources (Barglazan). This is a first step in the right direction but more is needed.

One idea would be a one – stop – shop for cities, as Claire Roumet (Energy Cities) suggested: In the current situation, several new facilities come to life:

[…] the EC announced to launch an Investment Facility,[…]in the Just Transition Mechanism, we hear about a Public Loan Facility. Is there any plan to have a one-stop-shop for municipalities, where they can go to and just get EU funds for their entire SEAPS and roadmaps?”  

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

The administrative and bureaucratic burden cities are facing when aiming at accessing EU funding is simply too high. The time to change has come. Tine Heyse, Deputy Mayor of Ghent and president of Climate Alliance furthermore stressed that

“Now, it´s time to act. The European Green Deal comes really at the right time. But, there are some elephants in the room and how to mobilize money is one of them!”

From the European Investment Bank, the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) is a great tool supporting EU policies and municipalities. However, ELENA grants are normally in the range of EUR 2m for preparation, in addition “it is more about realizing the actual investment on the ground,” explains Louise White, Senior Engineer, Energy efficiency and small scale renewables division EIB. Particularly for small – and medium – sized municipalities, capacities and resources are not sufficient to receive support.

CONCLUSION / TO – DO – LIST

  1. For the European Investment Bank, it is crucial to become the real climate bank.This means 100% fossil-free, only financing really green projects and minimize the bureaucratic burden for cities and municipalities. In addition, it would be helpful to develop a ready- to –go summary of the new EIB – landing policy, targeting decision makers, written in simple language.
  2. For the European Commission, it would be crucial to keep the future progress of the EUCF in sight and respond to it: If the facility really responds to the urgent needs of our cities, an adequate upgrade will be essential.
  3.  For cities, there are 3 things to do:
  •  Appoint a Climate Mayor, as exemplified by Tine Heyse in the City of Ghent. This is crucial for climate mainstreaming and making sure to coordinate between the different departments.
  • Start the dialogue with the economic ministry/ your national government: Diana Barglazan encouraged local authorities to team up with their national governments, since a large share of the recovery funds will be channeled through them. National governments also need to develop national recovery and resilience plans, which should be inspired by the examples form the local level.
  • Get in touch with the European City Facility, check out the FAQs and raise your questions!

Have you missed the session? Check out the recording here.