C40 is the cities network devoted to climate change and it is operating more and more in order to take into account societal inequalities issues in the climate change policies.
The Mayor of London and Chair of C40 Cities, the Mayor of Barcelona and Vice Chair of C40 Cities, and the Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation convened a group of Europe’s leading mayors from the C40 Cities network, international and European trade union leaders and the International Energy Agency (IEA), to agree upon the emergency actions needed to avert the looming energy poverty crisis facing their cities.
Mayors warned that poor historic decision-making has contributed to the energy poverty crisis and proposed an emergency action plan for Europe to cut household energy bills and accelerate a just energy transition. C40 analysis shows that 55% of gas consumption in C40 member cities is used for heating and cooling in residential buildings, tying residents to volatile fossil fuels, and there are three times more jobs in European energy efficiency and retrofit markets than would be created by investment in fossil gas.
Mayors of Barcelona, Glasgow, Heidelberg, London, Milan, Oslo and Warsaw vowed to work together with unions, governments and the IEA to double down on delivering their science-based climate action plans. They vow to work together as spiralling fossil fuel prices threaten living standards and risk pushing millions more Europeans into energy poverty. They say that to tackle the energy poverty crisis we need to dramatically reduce gas dependency by boosting renewables and retrofits that will also create good, green jobs.
Noting what the IEA deems necessary to solve the crisis, mayors put forward a comprehensive emergency plan that can accelerate the delivery of actions and policies to help residents and workers living in cities, and called on national governments to step up their ambition and support cities with the funding and powers they need. Mayors called on national governments to scale up their emergency response to the crisis, including prioritising recovery funds and ‘windfall taxes’ on energy companies, to deliver emergency measures and devolving the powers cities need to deliver and accelerate action.
Mayor of London and C40 Chair, Sadiq Khan, says, “The climate emergency is the biggest global threat we face today, and our reliance on fossil fuels has left us vulnerable to sky-rocketing prices. Moving to clean energy will not only help save our planet, but create many highly skilled, well paid green jobs. We must all play our part in helping cities around the world become greener, fairer and more prosperous for all. The time to act is now.” Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau says, “Many families are torn between eating or paying for energy bills because of the lack of energy-efficient housing, together with the rise of house and energy prices. The invasion of Ukraine and sky-rocketing increases in energy prices are worsening the social crisis created by COVID-19 and thrusting vulnerable European households deeper into poverty.”
This important initiative is promoted by a panel of Cities that can already boost relevant case histories in the field of energy poverty.
The city of Barcelona has supported thousands of people to cut their energy consumption and bills and switch to renewable energy through Energy Advice Points which also act as watch-dogs for people’s energy rights. The city has also developed a training programme for home care workers to provide advice and reach homebound vulnerable residents and the “hidden” energy poor who may not access conventional services. Energy poor households are exempt from paying the municipal sewage tax.
As part of the London’s climate change and energy programmes, the Warmer Homes programme provides free heating, cooling and ventilation improvements for low-income Londoners who own their own homes or rent privately.
The Social Housing Retrofit Accelerator and Mayor’s Innovation Partnership are helping accelerate energy efficiency projects for social housing, providing technical expertise and guidance to help kick-start the retrofit of ageing and inefficient homes while driving down costs and growing the supply chain for retrofit projects. London launched its online Cost of Living Hub in April so all residents have trusted advice on how to access government support to reduce their bills and through Solar Together, London supports residents looking to install solar PVs and storage solutions on their property through an aggregated procurement programme which secures savings of 20-35% against average market price.
The city of Paris is supporting people to renovate multi-occupancy buildings with a platform that links residents with building professionals, securing over €80 million of investment in retrofit works and achieving typical annual savings of $220 per apartment.
Milan is building Italy’s first zero carbon, energy-efficient social housing project to ensure that residents are protected from volatile energy prices. They are also working to retrofit multi-family buildings, with pilots showing that deep retrofits could reduce energy costs by 23%.
Warsaw is supporting residents to replace polluting coal stoves used for heating by vulnerable residents with clean alternatives such as heat pumps. More than PLN 50 million have also been given to private residents as subsidies to install solar PVs, with an aggregated capacity of 34.6 MW. The city has also announced the launch of the Municipal Photovoltaic Development Program 2022-2030 – allocating PLN 60 million (c. €13 million) in the first three years to more than double the solar PV capacity on municipal assets to 21.4MW and aiming to deploy solar PVs on all municipal buildings by 2030. This will save the city PLN 174 million by 2037.
In Oslo, heating oil has been replaced by renewable sources of energy, including district energy systems using waste heat from the sewage system and individual heat pumps.
Heidelberg built one of the world’s largest carbon neutral districts in Bahnstadt, sheltering residents from volatile and rising energy costs through ensuring that all buildings (public and private) are constructed to passive-house standards, smart metres enable to monitor energy
consumption and identify potential energy savings and a wood-chip combined heat and power station provides heat for the district.
In the US, Austin TX has a power purchase agreement with a utility-scale solar farm to provide low-cost power to city residents.
In Korea, Seoul is deploying domestic solar PV panels to 1 million households and making solar PV systems mandatory for public buildings. Seoul’s ‘Energy Welfare Public-Private Partnership Program’ is helping to alleviate fuel poverty via a range of direct and indirect support measures, such as financing for low-income households to have their homes retrofitted for greater energy efficiency, and training and employing disadvantaged job seekers as energy consultants and energy welfare workers to assess energy performance of low-income households.
In China’s Qingdao, 5000 residential buildings have already been retrofitted to save energy. By the time the scheme is complete, it is expected that residents will have saved $3.5m in energy bills, and that around 700,000 tonnes of CO2 will have been avoided.
Washington DC’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides eligible households with a one off emergency assistance for those that have received a utility disconnection notice.
Cape Town installed 44,000 solar water heaters, resulting in an energy saving of 10,208,000 kWh/month. The programme created 1,258 jobs and contributed $58.1 million to the local economy. Furthermore, the programme estimated that with that solar water heating households save a collective $1.5 million per month.