Press Releases PRESS RELEASE – Lack of political ambition cripples efforts for much needed energy transition in buildings

PRESS RELEASE – Lack of political ambition cripples efforts for much needed energy transition in buildings

PRESS RELEASE – Lack of political ambition cripples efforts for much needed energy transition in buildings

Brussels, 25th June – Last week, EU leaders failed to agree on much-needed 2050 climate neutrality goals, with four countries reluctant to find consensus and asking for a tailored assessment of each country’s economic needs and overall readiness before proceeding with an EU-wide agreement. The outcome of the Council meeting of the 20th June creates frustration on all fronts. Gloomy warnings from the Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change, now months-old, paint a landscape of disastrous consequences for our environment and health – worth the grimmest post-apocalyptic movie, including the loss of entire species and ecosystems, flooding and droughts. As we speak, most of the countries that have opposed the agreement on climate change are experiencing life-threatening heat, driven by the global rise of temperatures.

Paradoxically, as Member States struggled to find an agreement at the Council, a 3-day streak of events to stress the importance of accelerating an energy transition was taking place a few steps away. Thousands of citizens, together with governments and industry representatives have flooded the rooms of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) to join hundreds of events focusing on the urgency of tackling the climate crisis, showcasing an extraordinary array of strategies and technologies to activate a much-needed mitigation process.

Upgrading our heating & cooling infrastructure is key to this process: 81% of our heating & cooling is still produced with non-renewable sources; 52% of our heating and cooling is consumed within our private and public buildings. Clean our buildings from obsolete, polluting technologies (think oil and gas boilers), replace them with efficient technologies (think geothermal, biomass stoves and boilers, solar panels and heat pumps): congratulations! You have proceeded to decarbonizing about half of Europe’s heating and cooling, preventing millions of tons of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere and aggravating our climate crisis.

A large EUSEW event organized by a coalition of industry representatives, EU-funded projects and the International Renewable Energy Agency, brought together industry representatives, united under the flag of the DecarbHeatinitiative, was held this 20th June to call for the immediate decarbonization of our buildings’ heating and cooling as a key measure to reach our 2050 goals, insisting on the preparedness of the industry on one side, the worrying lack of political ambition on the other: “the recent impasse at the Council serves as a crystal clear window onto the real obstacles to decarbonization: beyond financing and investment costs, the lack of political ambition is the most discouraging sign of how everyone seems to be ready for the transition, except for some national leaders”, said Jean-Marc Jossart, Secretary General of Bioenergy Europe, intervening at the event.

Representatives from the cities of Vienna and Antwerp stressed the importance of local governments actions for decarbonizing heating & cooling networks and provided an overview of their achievements and plans, underlining the need to involve all local stakeholders (companies and citizens) to succeed.
EU funded projects PLANHEAT , HOTMAPS and RELaTED, present at the event, offer solutions that can support cities and regions in this direction. Software developed by HOTMAPS and PLANHEAT can assist cities and regions in their heating and cooling planning, while RELaTED is developing an innovative ultra-low temperature concept for thermal district energy networks. Such tools and solutions are part of an integrated, holistic approach to decarbonize the sector.

Paul Voss, head of Euroheat & Power, a network of district energy organizations and professionals striving for sustainable heating and cooling, suggests to take inspiration from the case of electricity in Europe: ‘‘What lessons can be learnt from the power sector when it comes to decarbonizing heating and cooling? The fact that creating the right policy pressure is essential!’

All stakeholders present at the event agreed on the urgency of decarbonizing the building sector. An integrated approach, bringing together different technologies and calibrating the contribution of each according to the local specificities, while allowing citizens better access to information on how to make the right investments for them and their environment, stimulating financing and taking advantage of legislation on building renovations are key to achieve decarbonization. Without the right political and legislative signals, however, all efforts risk to be crippled – Europeans can’t afford any more indecisions.

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