French covenant of mayors club meeting took place in Paris

On the 23rd of May, Energy Cities organised in Paris a capacity building workshop for Covenant of Mayors signatories. The main theme focused on innovative financing schemes as inspiration for the actions mentioned in the Sustainable Energy Action Plans of the Covenant of Mayors and in the French local Climate & Energy Action Plans. It gathered about 60 participants including local representatives and technicians from all over France, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe), representatives of the Ministry of Environment (CETU), universities and expert associations.

In a context of economic uncertainties, this workshop aimed at tackling the financing issue of energy plans to help actors currently facing budgetary constraints. How can local authorities design, through experimentations and financial innovations, policies that will enable them to meet the 3x20 targets?

To answer that question, six speakers were invited to introduce successful actions carried out in their respective regions. For the first time experiences from outside France were given with the invitation of three German local actors. They brought out to the French audience some of the measures implemented in their own territories. The Essonne department as long as the cities of Paris and Besançon also presented their innovative policies in the field of energy savings/transition.

The main topics discussed were:

  • How to overcome administrative burden of European funded projects?
  • How to convince local banks and private actors to take part in these energy actions?
  • How to finance ambitious programmes without relying exclusively on public subsidies?
  • How can a municipality innovate by itself to support effective energy actions?

The speakers gave some answers, Paris and the Essonne department explaining the conditions to get European funds, Germans participants introducing innovative public tools (contracting, intracting, climate fund and individuals cooperatives) and the technical challenges to be met, Besancon illustrating the benefits of carbon credits in one municipality’s strategies. These interventions resulted in lots of comments from participants willing to share their own experiences (be it successes or failures) and opinions on what they considered to be the main barriers for ambitious local energy policies to be implemented.

All participants finally agreed on crucial points to be met to successfully conceive ambitious and efficient energy actions:

  • Fostering a new paradigm in which public authorities will not be alone but with actors of the territories (banks, SMEs, individuals, associations). It would both ease the financial burden and increase the concrete impact of the implemented policies.
  • In order for this to happen local authorities must insist on the direct impacts of energy actions on both innovation and economic activity. Supporting energy transition means making local economies more competitive and creating new jobs locally.
  • Successful policies also demand more power for local authorities. Decentralisation should be defended to give local actors room for manoeuvre, allowing them to innovate in their energy policies.

More information here, with videos in German (subtitled in French) of interviews of the German guests.

Project coordinated by Energy Cities,Supported by Intelligent Energy – Europe: for a sustainable future and ADEME