Mayors and cities across Europe are embarking on a bottom-up campaign to harness the most immediate and inexpensive solution possible – energy saving
The European Commission released the “Save gas for a safe winter”, a strategy to reduce demand for natural gas in order to balance the supply gap from Russia in the event of further declining imports or complete cut offs. The plan recommends Member States to decrease their usual gas consumption by 15% through energy savings in buildings, electricity generation and industrial activities. As part of the effort to reduce Europe’s fossil reliance on Russia, the European Commission recognises the role of cities and municipalities in pursuing the vision for energy independence and refers to the Cities Energy Saving Sprint as a significant initiative to drive down demand for winter and prevent disruptions. A factsheet on how cities can reduce Russian gas dependency, together with examples of municipalities taking action, complements the European Commission’s strategy.
“As part of REPowerEU, the Commission has put forward the EU ‘Save Energy Plan’ which also sets out a wide range of short-term measures that Member States can take to incentivise actions that will also bring immediate gas savings (such as turning down heating, servicing and reducing temperature of boilers). The Commission also continues to work with local actors in spreading these messages, for example with the ‘Energy Savings Sprint’ campaign together with the Covenant of Mayors. These measures can also be implemented by cities, including via the 100 Climate Neutral Cities Mission.” – European Commission, Save gas for a safe winter
The Cities Energy Saving Sprint is a campaign to raise awareness across local governments to encourage municipalities across Europe to avoid energy consumption and reduce demand, launched by the Covenant of Mayors in cooperation with the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions. The advocacy project is backed by a letter to cities from the European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson and the support from several European cities that have already been taking action, including the mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski, who made a video to kickstart the campaign. As part of the project, a Toolkit provides suggestions on energy-saving measures and examples from cities’ testimonies, to inspire local authorities to take matters in their own hands.
“Today, it is clearer than ever that the greenest energy is the energy we don’t consume, and in this period of war in Ukraine, it is also the most ethical energy.” – Benoit Hellings, Deputy mayor of Brussels
Saving energy is the only clean option that can save today and can be implemented by everyone – especially at the local level. It is an important show of solidarity with suffering Ukrainians and a social imperative to alleviate households’, businesses’ and municipals’ budgets. Rising bills and a raging war on our continent have shone a light on our energy needs and especially where it comes from. A year ago, energy supply was a concern of the few, but we are on the cusp of unmissable impacts on every part of society – including cities. Local budgets are already straining because of rising utilities. Municipalities are taking action now but this is a war effort that requires every level of government.
“Every kw/h saved today is going to be used later in autumn, authorities and citizens need to be aware of it” – Julije Domac, Special Advisor on Energy and Climate of the Croatian President of Republic and Member of the Covenant of Mayors Political Board.