EU cities’ climate ambitions face regulatory burden

20th April 2017 Jack Aldane

Around 80 percent of cities within the European Union (EU) hit regulatory barriers to investment in the energy sector, yet are needed to make up two thirds of that investment for the EU to meet its energy and climate objectives by 2030, according to a report by climate policy initiative E3G.

The reports says local involvement in achieving the objectives could account for up to €92 billion of investment in energy efficiency, compared with €20 billion from other involvement. The total amount needed from local actors is expected to reach €149 billion over the next 15 years.

But obstacles to investment in energy are disproportionately encountered at local and regional level. Other areas of constraint include construction, where sectoral regulation holds back 76 percent of the union’s local and regional authorities, while 40 percent of these authorities consistently struggle to invest in transport and the digital economy.

Philip Thaler, Policy Advisor, E3G, told Cities Today: “Many cities have developed local energy and climate plans–for example, the Sustainable Energy Action Plans developed under the Covenant of Mayors framework. These plans should be considered when drawing up national energy and climate plans.”

The report attributes a portion of the problem to local authorities interaction with national governments, which it claims has evolved very little over the past 15 years.

“The national level should start to think differently about local level actors: rather seeing them as a challenge to their authority, they should be viewed as indispensable allies to deal with the challenge of the energy transition,” Thaler added.

It illustrates using a self-rule index of local authorities since 1995, the rise after 2010 of local governments’ legal autonomy, central government supervision and the influence of local authorities on central government decisions.

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