Serge Nocodie is the president of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Energy Environment, the energy agency of the French Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region (AURA-EE) since 2013. Serge dedicated most of his professional career to supporting municipalities and regions in their energy and climate transition. He is passionate about public policies and their local impact on climate mitigation and adaptation measures. He was the municipal councillor of the city of Grenoble for urban regulation from 1995 to 2014. Since early 2000, as President of 2 local energy utility companies, Serge has been involved in the deployment of RES solutions, especially in biomass. Since 2008, Serge Nocodie is vice-president for district heating, wind and biomass of AMORCE (national association bringing together local authorities, associations and enterprises involved in managing waste, energy and heating networks). Since 2015, Serge is also FEDARENE Vice-President for Climate Action.
The effects of climate change are now largely visible in all European regions: floods, droughts, fires, heatwaves, etc. Often, the consequences increase at a faster pace compared to what was originally planned. Public authorities answer risks incurred by citizens in emergency situations with immediate security measures. These emergency measures are challenging the investment plans of local authorities who are already under increasing budgetary constraints, especially when they require the reconstruction of infrastructures, for example. Understanding the implications of climate change and prioritizing the measures that need to be taken becomes a priority but complex exercise for these authorities, who are forced to invest to fix the recurring damages at the expense of anticipation actions.
Whether mandatory like in several EU Member States or voluntary like the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy initiative, climate planning thus needs to enable local public authorities to answer immediate expectations of their territories and anticipate the challenges of tomorrow. In France, many planning efforts have already been undertaken, to answer the regulatory demands for municipalities of more than 20 000 inhabitants or in a voluntary manner for Positive Energy Territories. AURA-EE has been supporting its local authorities for several decades now, both in their planning efforts and for the implementation of concrete projects. Several lessons have been learned:
European networks like FEDARENE contribute to reinforce the action and the commitment of local and regional actors by facilitating the exchange of experiences and by developing new European initiatives and cooperation projects. The EU must keep supporting these networks and highlighting the work done by local initiatives in terms of anticipation.
The monitoring of undertaken actions and the modelling of climate impacts require access to reliable local data. As a resource centre for public authorities and communities, AURA-EE provides local energy data, data related to GHG emissions and to climate change impacts. In order to respond to the demands of territories, the agency develops and technically coordinates decision-support tools such as:
The method of data acquisition, processing, and dissemination requires know-how in terms of setting advanced partnerships, data modelling and sharing. For several years now, with the support of FEDARENE, AURA-EE has been cooperating with organisations on local energy data inside the European network ENERGee-Watch. In the case of adaptation, the data used to measure the impacts of climate change is very diverse, coming from multiple sectors such as agriculture, forestry, water management or tourism. For each sector, it is important to focus on the appropriate indicators by initially identifying the vulnerabilities of territories. As these indicators can be very specific, it is necessary to form win-win data-sharing partnerships. These exchanges build on bottom-up (e.g. field study or local observation) or top-down (data disaggregation) processes. We will consider how we can extend the field of ENERGee-Watch to include data on which regions and cities are the most affected by climate change impacts and how we can reduce their vulnerability.
Climate crises caused by heatwaves are particularly significant in urban environments. Cities will have to face these extreme conditions and implement adaptation measures such as these based on nature: revegetation, shared gardens, rehabilitation of watercourses, rainwater harvesting, etc. These measures are often very effective. They require a transversal approach to urban planning inside communities and public authorities.
Other concrete actions can be put in place to answer the need for buildings cooling. Many cities are already using existing heating networks to set up cooling systems. In some cases, they can choose to feed the network through cold sustainable energy sources (sustainable cooling), as with geothermal or hydrothermal energy. These solutions offer strong potential and allow for an integrated approach combining mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Local support is often needed to counter the factors hindering the mobilisation of stakeholders. Energy agencies can largely contribute to the implementation of adaptation measures by exchanging experiences and developing projects.
In its reflections on the European Green Deal and in the definition of new EU funding programmes and policy legislatives, the Commission will have to consider these local initiatives and recognise the complexity of adaptation at the local level. It will need to support energy agencies in their evolution towards energy and climate agencies. This could be done through dedicated funding (SAVE CLIMATE type); support to experience-sharing and training projects/tools (for example a new ManagEnergy initiative focused on adaptation); dedicated call for projects in the framework of new programmes supporting European initiatives of agencies in key sectors such as:
In order to continue this reflection and better answer the expectations of agencies and public authorities, AURA-EE will support FEDARENE in organising, in the framework of its Vice-Presidency for Climate Action, exchanges of experiences between stakeholders in the field and the European Commission.
Moreover, I suggest putting in place a working group on Climate Action and Data Monitoring within FEDARENE to encourage all members to exchange their experience on the subject and identify best practices that could be replicated. It will help members to extend the scope and activities of the ENERGee-Watch European network to local data for climate action. I believe AURA-EE can contribute to coordinate such a group thanks to its experience with ORCAE, the climate, air and energy regional observatory. In this framework, I will propose that the working group meets at least once a year and that a support document and online tool will be produced during the Climate Action Vice-Presidency.