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A debate on the energy transition for the French Alliance for Local Energy

On the 20th of September, partners from the Alliance for Local Energy (AEL) of the French Covenant of Mayors Club met in Paris-Dauphine University. The meeting gathered representatives of French Covenant Club’s members as long as representatives of companies, business associations, expert bodies and associations of local authorities. Jean-Marie Chevalier, a French economist and energy expert, former director of the Centre of Geopolitics of Energy and Raw Materials (CGEMP) and senior associate of the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), was invited as a guest speaker.

Jean-Marie Chevalier, energy expert, and Jean-Patrick Masson, coordinator of the French Covenant Club © Claire SavaryDuring the first part of the meeting, Mr Chevalier delivered a speech in which he reasserted the challenges ahead regarding energy and environmental issues. Current energy systems must be deeply transformed in order to dramatically reduce our greenhouse emissions and develop green energies. Not only will it be positive for the environment but will also strengthen the competitively of European economies.
To this end, Jean-Marie Chevalier stressed on the need to turn the heavily centralised French energy system into a decentralised one, in which more responsibilities will be devolved to empowered regional and local authorities.
Such an energy system must foster innovation and experimentation by giving room for manoeuvre to local actors. Benchmarking should also be favoured in order to lay the ground for soft competition and local initiatives to thrive. Finally, actors of the civil society, be it average citizens or entrepreneurs, should be included and citizens’ initiatives brought out.
During the following discussion, the audience agreed on the need to strengthen local prerogatives in the energy field through greater decentralisation and on the importance of enabling citizens to take part in futures discussions regarding energy transition.

Afterward, a roundtable was organised with partners of the AEL to discuss the collective strategy to adopt for the coming weeks during the scheduled national debate for the energy transition.
Indeed, this meeting took place in a specific political context, the French government having held an environmental conference one week earlier and unveiled its roadmap to foster France’s energy transition. To this end, the government decided to start in November a 7-month national debate for the energy transition, taking place at the regional level, aiming at associating the civil society and defining France’s strategy for a post-carbon economy.
The main goal of this meeting was thus to define the AEL’s stance for this national debate and to decide how the partners will pass it on and promote it in the coming months. AEL’s partners had been invited to give out their proposals and ideas on what should be the main points to be defended by the Alliance. Constructive and fruitful exchanges followed. This meeting was thus the opportunity for the Alliance for Local Energy to get more concrete for its members and to share their objectives for the upcoming national debate on the energy transition.

Watch the videos of the meeting (in French).

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