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18 November 2011 / EN

Towards a resource-efficient Europe Cities and Regions boosting energy efficiency in public buildings and infrastructures

Draft declaration of the European People's Party Group in the Committee of the Regions

The European People’s Party Group in the Committee of the Regions, considering that

 

  • natural resources are fundamental for our quality of life;
  • on average, Europeans use about 16 tones of material resources per year;
  • despite Europe’s richness in natural resources, demand has long exceeded its ability to generate the resources it uses;
  • we need to learn how to use our resources more efficiently and share the common knowledge and good practice;
  • local and regional authorities, cities, regions, are important levers in this respect since they are usually in charge of energy efficiency policies, public buildings, transport policy, waste management policies, and policies which favour renewable energy production.

 

  1. recalls the aim of the Europe 2020 strategy – and its seven flagship initiatives – to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth geared towards economic recovery and consolidation in Europe and reminds that its success can only be achieved by implementation and ownership at the regional and local level;
  2. in particular in the context of the financial, economic and social crisis, believes that a more resource efficient lifestyle can help overcome the difficulties as it can create jobs and substantial benefits for households, businesses and public authorities generating welcome financial savings;
  3. fully recognises that the path towards the implementation of energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to increase security of energy supply, decrease energy dependency, ensure affordable energy prices and help combat environmental deterioration;
  4. just days ahead of the Durban Climate Change Conference, takes stock that almost three thousand cities have volunteered to implement sustainable energy measures through the Covenant of Mayors and encourages all regions cities to sign up;
  5. highlights the Committee of the Regions opinion on A Resource-efficient Europe – Flagship Initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy where the local and regional authorities are natural front-line players in the implementation of the 20-20-20 objectives[1];
  6. highlights that a shift to a low-carbon economy would create economic and innovation opportunities, support EU competitiveness, and boost employment in the green technology sector;
  7. supports the European Commission’s proposal to increase the proportion of climate related expenditure to at least 20% within the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 and proposal to accommodate energy efficiency measures within the future cohesion policy;
  8. welcomes the proposed Connecting Europe Facility and the EU infrastructure priorities in transport, energy and telecommunications that would not only generate growth and jobs, but also make Europe’s economy greener;
  9. regrets that the EU is on course to achieve only half of the 20% objective and commits to energy saving measures in public buildings, infrastructures products and processes;
  10. applauds the feedback on the EPP initiative to establish Territorial Pacts of Regional and Local Authorities on the Europe 2020 Strategy with the objective of ensuring multi-level ownership through an effective partnership between the European, national, regional and local public authorities, especially when it comes to the design and implementation of the Europe 2020 headline targets and flagship initiatives;

    With regards to public building, spending and infrastructure
  11. reminds that 60% of the global total electricity is used for lightning public and commercial buildings and therefore calls on the building sector to be provided with appropriate regulatory and financial stimuli to increase energy efficiency renovation rates;
  12. acknowledges that the greatest energy saving potential lies in buildings and in particular the renovation of public and private buildings to improve the energy performance of the components and appliances used in them;
  13. stresses the need for extensive as much as economically sustainable investments to be made at the regional and local level in energy infrastructures, with particular regard to providing public buildings with modern and sustainable energy-efficiency standards;
  14. recommends all the regional and local authorities to guarantee information to their tax-payers and economic partners about common financial and health benefits deriving from the renovation of public buildings and infrastructures according to recognized energy-efficiency indicators;
  15. recommends all the regional and local authorities to guarantee information to their employees about the importance of sustainable use of energy sources not only in their home but also their work environment, such as electricity, water and heating;
  16. welcomes the opportunity to create new markets for energy efficient technologies, services and eco-business models;

    With regards to the role of regions and cities in creating a resource-efficient Europe
  17. stresses the responsibility of regional and local authorities to promote innovative governance models, which are able to change citizens’ lifestyles, foster reliable integrated energy networks as well as modernise EU energy infrastructure;
  18. underlines the frontline role played by regional and local authorities in providing national and EU decision makers with an extensive body of practical advice and examples of good practice in the planning and implementation of energy efficiency initiatives, with particular regard to those involving ICT and innovative projects;
  19. affirms the role of the regional and local authorities in enhancing and feeding a change-makers mentality among their citizens from the early stage of their lives, by teaching that a proper, responsible use of energy resources is interconnected with the global challenges to seek sustainable green solutions to preserve and restore the natural heritage of the world;
  20. within this context, underlines the importance to create awareness by promoting the dynamic employment of information and communication tools; hence highlights the close interconnection between the use of new technologies, informatics tool and social networks and the independent and free access to broad information about benefits deriving from the correct use of energy sources in terms of health, environmental safety, fight against climate change and broad economic savings;
  21. aims to increase the use of public-private partnerships and innovative models, which involve local and regional authorities and bio and green-architecture think-tanks and companies, and to pay particular attention to entrepreneurs and SMEs as they are key drivers for research and growth;
  22. stresses that the public-private model, led by public authorities in partnership with universities and companies, can drive towards concretely increase the energy efficiency know-how by sharing projects and far-looking visions towards a more sustainable future, enhance investments and stimulate innovation; also recognize the need for a more energy efficiency oriented training for the constructor sector players;
  23. in this regards, asks the European Commission to support setting up of national, regional and local agencies to deal with resource efficiency and extend the remits of the existing agencies to include information spreading and providing advice to public authorities, businesses, entrepreneurs and citizens;
  24. underlines the importance of the principle of good stewardship, whereby citizens  are involved in the responsible management and use of natural resources with a view to ensuring their sustainability and maintaining their diversities;
  25. is convinced  that this principle should be implemented by using a multilevel governance approach and respecting the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality, as a condition for local and regional authorities to be fully recognized in their role of active partners in implementing EU policies;

    With regards to implementation on the ground
  26. with an annual spending of more than 17% of EU’s GDP, stresses that the regional and local authorities are forerunners in creating an energy-efficient society by investing money, acting by example and encouraging innovation in its further development;
  27. recalls that local and regional authorities have a direct impact on citizens, and through concrete actions such as the installation of dimmers in street lighting, or intelligent meters for energy users, or renovation of public buildings with energy efficiency in mind they are already contributing to a more sustainable society;
  28. stands ready to welcome and support ambitious, grassroots projects in line with this formal contribution. EPP Declaration of Maribor on “Towards a resource-efficient Europe – Cities and Regions boosting energy efficiency in public buildings and infrastructures”.

[1]              Michel Lebrun, October 2011.