- C40 cities welcome the urgent focus to reduce gas demand in Europe this winter. The best way to reduce demand and deliver energy security is for Member States to work with cities in their emergency plans to renovate at least 6 million homes in the next year, starting with social and low-income housing. Not only would this deliver the gas saving we need, but would protect some of Europe’s most vulnerable residents from spiralling gas prices, deliver jobs and keep European climate commitments on track.
- Even over the short term, the answers to the energy crisis must not come at the expense of Europe’s clean energy transition – fuel substitution must mean accelerating the roll out of fast installation renewables like heat-pumps and solar panels. In addition to energy savings before winter, cities call for direct support to residents suffering now through windfall taxes, and to bring Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels to an end as quickly as possible.
- Cities are already working to provide energy bill support to residents, deliver home energy saving measures and roll out renewables, but with the right level of support and investment from the EU and member states to renovate homes, cities can bring together communities to scale up the delivery of energy savings and deliver home renovations to the highest level of energy performance.
C40 Cities and its European member cities welcome the European Commission’s focus to prepare for further gas supply disruptions in the coming winter months, but urge governments across the continent to work with cities when updating national emergency plans to renovate the millions of homes needed to protect vulnerable residents from energy price hikes and work to end Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Crucially, this includes working with cities to deploy clean energy solutions such as heat-pumps and solar panels and urgently achieve an annual whole house energy renovation rate of 3% of the building stock (in line with reaching Europe’s climate commitments) starting with residents vulnerable to price hikes. Working with cities to reach at least 6 million social housing and low-income homes every year can achieve the 3% annual rate to reduce the EU’s structural vulnerability to volatile gas prices, while enhancing the economy, environment and well-being, and ensure all social housing is fully upgraded in the next five years.
C40 cities further support the EU’s guidance to protect citizens’ households and essential social services under national emergency plans and will work towards tapping the full potential of immediate gas consumption reduction measures available to them.
Meeting this 6 million target and reaching the most vulnerable can be best achieved through collaboration with cities, who know their residents, can enact savings by delivering a street-by-street approach with communities, and have the mandate and knowledge to deliver on the ground. Cities are committed to doing their part, but require additional, direct support to scale up action to curb the escalating energy crisis.
For example, in Barcelona, city-led home energy assessments and subsidised energy efficiency measures for energy poor homes have helped to reduce energy use and the cost of bills by up to 19% or 225 euros a year. More can be done with and through cities.
In Milan and other Italian cities, energy renovations for homes could support 598,000 jobs, boosting economic activity as well as reducing gas demand and C02. Polling commissioned in October 2021 by C40 suggests that 93% of residents in Italian cities have supported the use of economic recovery funds for climate action where local jobs are created.
And in Warsaw between 2018 and 2021, with the help of city subsidies, they managed to replace more than 4,000 solid fuel stoves, with up to 30% of new heating sources now being heat pumps. Those who choose to install a heat pump could count on an additional subsidy for solar panels, which reduces the cost of operating the pump. This solution is currently not only the greenest, but also the most cost-effective.
While immediate energy efficiency measures are essential to prepare for colder winter months, energy poverty should be more than a seasonal priority. As parts of Europe are facing extreme and unprecedented heat waves, energy demand for cooling will only increase in the near future.
As the European Commission will be working closely with national governments to revise emergency plans of action for this winter, the time to act and equip cities is now.
Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona and Member of the C40 Steering Committee, said: “Toxic dependency on fossil fuels is the critical underlying cause of rampant energy poverty. We cannot treat this disease with more fossil fuels. With our C40 Emergency Plan, the City of Barcelona has already outlined the way forward for our clean, just energy transition while taking care of the most vulnerable residents, such as through our recent commitment to renovate 15,000 homes in the coming three years. Lifting residents out of energy poverty must be our absolute priority in Europe, and this is what we have been doing in Barcelona for many years through our energy poverty advisory points and Barcelona Energia, our municipal energy operator running only on renewable energy. The time to act and equip cities for this emergency is now. ”
Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan and Member of the C40 Steering Committee, said: “Europe finds itself amidst a severe energy crisis. While scorching heat waves are hitting the continent, we must prepare for severe energy disruptions ahead of next winter. Mayors stand ready to lead by example and implement all possible energy saving measures while protecting our residents. This must prioritise the renovation of 6m homes to protect Europe’s most vulnerable residents from the energy crisis and save lives. In Milan, we have already adopted an Air and Climate Plan aimed at implementing energy efficiency and decarbonisation solutions as well as providing relief to our residents. Together with the C40 city network, we will continue to work closely with the European Union and national governments on Europe’s green and just energy transition.”
Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw said: “Our response to the energy crisis is a subsidy program to support residents in replacing fossil fuel stoves with renewable energy sources: heat pumps with solar panels. We are also launching a special Stop Smog program dedicated to low income households, under which we will combine the replacement of coal-burning stoves with heat pumps and the insulating of buildings by covering 100% of the investment costs.
Dr. Eckart Würzner, Lord Mayor of Heidelburg said: “As a city administration, we want to set a good example and reduce our energy consumption by 15 percent starting in the fall. In doing so, we also want to motivate as many people, companies and institutions as possible to join in. Through the German Association of Cities, I am campaigning for other cities to follow our example. Because saving energy pays off: for securing the energy supply in the coming winter, but also for climate protection and long-term independence from fossil fuels. We need a Europe-wide energy turnaround, which is getting a huge boost from this crisis.”
“With the municipal support program, Heidelberg is now providing even stronger incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energies with higher subsidies and new incentives for financially weak citizens. At the same time, we are providing strong impetus for economic growth, jobs and social balance in a difficult supply situation.”