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    EU local government officials called on the Union to act to protect against the impact of energy prices

    Local government officials from across the EU, along with MEPs, have called on the European Union to take more concrete action to protect citizens from the effects of the EU’s highest-ever energy prices.

    Concerns about the socioeconomic impact of record-high energy prices were shared by attendees of the European Green Deal Going Local working group meeting. Committee of the Regions members and MEPs focused on the urgent need for greater energy efficiency. They emphasized that it not only contributes to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions but also has a significant impact on citizens’ energy bills.

     

    “As owners and managers of the large building stock, regional and local authorities have an important role to play in improving energy efficiency,” stressed Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski.

     

    The Committee of the Regions’ rapporteur on the revision of the energy efficiency directive spoke of the need for ambitious regulation in this area to help achieve a climate-neutral Europe and combat energy poverty.

     

    “Energy efficiency in households and public buildings is critical to lowering energy bills as prices soar. We need to increase energy efficiency regardless of energy sources,” he pointed out.

     

    Trzaskowski welcomed the EU’s new taxonomy. The issue is the classification of energy investments as sustainable and thus access to EU and market funding. The taxonomy is intended to be an essential tool for achieving the goals of the European Green Deal.

     

    The mayor of Warsaw also called on the European Commission to allocate direct funds to local governments, which, in Trzaskowski’s opinion, is a prerequisite for cities and regions to successfully meet energy efficiency targets.

     

    Deputy Mayor of Budapest Kata Tutto, who is the new head of the Committee of the Regions’ Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) Commission, stressed that 2022 is a critical year for the green transition.

     

    “Cities and regions need to work with EU institutions to achieve the goals of the European Green Deal, but also address new forms of energy poverty and (poverty) mobility in the transition to climate neutrality to make sure no one is left out,” she said.

     

    The CoR points out that back in 2019, in an opinion for which she was rapporteur, Tutto warned that “household energy prices cannot be left to market self-regulation.”

     

    The mayor of Mannheim, Germany, Peter Kurz, has proposed that cities and regions directly manage a portion of the revenues from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

     

    “The border carbon tax (CBAM) and ETS2 are key elements of the >>Fit for 55<< package. CO2 pricing has proven to be an effective policy instrument on the path to decarbonization, which has no alternative. But we have to make sure that we compensate for its impact so that no citizen or region is left behind," said the CoR rapporteur on the mechanism.

     

    MEP Peter Liese, who is the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), assessed that several member states were not making sufficient use of EU budget funds and ETS revenues for energy efficiency projects.

     

    In contrast, Bernd Voss, a member of parliament for the state of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany, asserted that the energy price crisis is not caused by the EU’s climate ambitions, but by our dependence on fossil fuels and their rising prices.

     

    “In the short term, we need targeted support for vulnerable citizens to maintain their mobility and heat their homes,” he pointed out. He added that cost-effective energy and energy independence for the EU can only be achieved through the rapid development of renewable energy production.

     

    In the context of rising energy prices, more direct intervention by the central governments of EU member states is crucial, according to the councillor of the western Finnish city of Oulu, Mirja Vehkapera.

     

    “People are frustrated with rising energy prices (…). National governments must take responsibility for offsetting such energy price increases for citizens,” she said.

     

    According to Eurostat, 31 million Europeans live in energy poverty.

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