Devolution, European energy transition’s best friend?

Brussels, 18 June 2015. Local and regional actors gathered today in Brussels to discuss devolution in the European energy sector. The event, celebrated in the frame of the European Sustainable Energy Week and co-organized by CEDEC, Client Earth and Energy Cities, aimed to analyse the possibilities and implications of this trend, both in practical and policy terms.  

The event started with a key-note speech by Andreas Rüdinger, research fellow in IDDRI, who defined ‘devolution’ as the “decentralization of power in energy issues and systems”. He urged policy makers to implement the local approach in the decision-making process and said: “in Europe there are two different communities:  one following the local transition and another one interested in the market integration. Both face the problem of evolving in different debates and this discounter does not help to an optimal energy transition.”

During the debate, representatives of local and regional actors had the chance to explain their progress so far in the energy transition. Asa Karlsson-Björkmarker, deputy mayor of Väjxo (Sweeden), shared best practices in her city and explained the crucial role of the public energy company in helping in the reduction of CO2 emissions, in creating local jobs, and in paving the way for a fossil fuel free city by 2030.

Christof Lange, CEO of Landsberg Local Energy Company (Germany), highlighted the need to establish platforms for information exchange and bottom-up discussions so EU policy makers can adapt the tools and policies to the real need of citizens and eventually reach the goals.

Josh Roberts, lawyer at Client Earth on the field of community power, talked about the legal possibilities of citizens and communities in fulfilling energy objectives. He gave the examples of Denmark and the UK, two countries where local and regional projects are changing the way of producing and consuming energy thanks to the new actors called prosumers. 

Finally, a representative of DG Energy, Niels Anger, also participated in the discussion and explained the new governance to be implemented in the Energy Union and the proposals from the Commission to create links between regional and national level in the energy system.