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European Commissioner for Energy
Masterminds Europe – Re-inventing Europe
International Real State Fair MIPIM
Cannes, 12 March 2014
The decisions architects and urban planners make today will define the world we have in two or three generations’ time. Also, the energy policy decisions of today will shape the world for our children and children’s children.
Cities are at the heart of our energy policy. Energy changes in cities are offering a different kind of future.
Low energy housing.
Passive heating and cooling.
Smart urban networks linking power generation, transport options, social housing and energy efficient workplaces.
Intelligent energy metering and micro grids, giving access to local forms of power – solar, geothermal or combined heat and power – and giving consumers real control over their energy use.
Zero emission transport, from electric vehicles, fuels cells, or bicycle pedals.
Our cities have an exciting future. A different future. A healthier future.
But why am I saying this, a European energy commissioner? What can I offer beyond the other highly distinguished guests here, who have daily contact with cities, architects, builders and householders…?
I will sum up in three themes; first: European cooperation, second: the supporting legal framework to drive change in cities and third: financing.
City building policies do not stop at the local town hall.
In the EU we have a range of initiatives which achieve exactly that:
- The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Smart Communities;
- The Strategic Energy Technologies Information System on Smart Cities;
- The “Construction 2020” action plan.
There are separate actions on smart grids; energy storage; intelligent transport and collaboration with the ICT sector.
And of course I should mention the Covenant of Mayors signed by more than 5000 European mayors who voluntarily commit to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources on their territories. By their commitment, Covenant signatories aim to meet and exceed the European Union 20% CO2 reduction objective by 2020. It is the only movement of its kind mobilising local and regional actors around the fulfilment of EU objectives.
European collaboration will help you, your clients and your investors get the most out of their work. And it will help you to share your knowledge, lessons and technological expertise with diverse partners.
Supporting legal framework to drive change
There is another dimension to cities where European energy policy is driving change. Cities are key to the EU's objectives of 20% energy saving by 2020 because 70% of the EU's energy is consumed in cities.
Our 2020 energy and climate framework offers the security of medium term policies. Our proposals for 2030 give us a longer term horizon because 2020 is today and 2030 is tomorrow. Our 2050 Energy Roadmap takes us even further into the future.
Whether we are looking at 2020, 2030, or 2050, the core message is the same.
A shift towards more energy efficiency and energy saving technologies is the way Europe will go. Europe wants to become a highly innovative low-carbon economy. To get there, what happens in cities is decisive.
With the help of European policies and legislation, we can provide a supporting legal framework to build the future of our cities.
The third element we need, though, is money.
Because of their perceived cost, low energy, passive or active buildings still have a limited market uptake and require also more investment upfront. The economic crisis has dulled enthusiasm for costly investments with a longer pay back period.
This is regrettable.
Investment in low energy buildings would give the real estate and construction sectors fresh impetus, which would be good for the European economy.
Construction generates almost 10% of the EU's GDP and provides 20 million jobs, mainly in micro and small enterprises.
It also contributes to 50% of the capital formation in the EU.
European money is helping to lever national and private funding in new building projects.
From 2014 to 2020, the amounts available for energy efficiency and renewable energy under Cohesion Spending, the EU's main financial instruments to reduce the gap between poor and rich regions, will be effectively doubled compared to the previous period, reaching €23 billion. Also the European Investment Bank has endorsed new guidelines in 2013, putting inter alia even more emphasis on energy efficiency projects.
The challenges facing Europe and Europe’s cities at this time are formidable. The globalisation of markets; economic uncertainty; energy supply at affordable prices; the protection of the environment; demographic changes; social cohesion; safety and health of citizens…
Both European energy policy and local initiatives make a difference in how we tackle these challenges. How we build the cities of the future.