Download publication

Policy Contribution

Going local: empowering cities to lead EU decarbonisation

Decarbonisation and digitalisation are reshaping the European energy system, which will become more decentralised and interconnected with other sectors. Cities have the opportunity to be the key drivers of decarbonisation, but this will require the implementation of a new bottom-up governance system. This paper outlines a four-step mechanism in order to achieve decarbonisation at city level.

By: and Date: November 30, 2016 Topic: Energy & Climate

Four trends are reshaping the European energy system: decarbonisation, digitalisation and, as a result of the two, decentralisation and convergence.

Based on strong public policies, decarbonisation is reshuffling the European energy mix, while innovation in digital technologies is enabling disruptive change in the way energy systems are operated. This enables the European energy system to become more decentralised with increasing interaction between services (electricity, heat, transport, data) that used to be largely separate.

In this new context, cities are the key arenas of decarbonisation. However, European Union (EU) energy and climate governance is based on top-down policies that are not complemented by a solid bottom-up system that ensures consistency of EU, national and local measures and incentivises decarbonisation at city level.

This Policy Contribution proposes better integration of top-down energy and climate policy mechanisms with new bottom-up incentives that aim to promote decarbonisation at city level. This mechanism can be set up in four steps.

  • Step 1: understand a city’s carbon footprint and create a baseline scenario. A participating city should start by carrying out an emissions inventory that would quantify the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from energy consumption on its territory during a specific year. This should identify the principal sources of emissions and therefore enable prioritisation of reduction measures.
  • Step 2: understand a city’s carbon handprint and create a reference scenario. With an emissions inventory in place, each city can identify the areas of its economy with the greatest decarbonisation potential, and can prioritise its decarbonisation policies accordingly.
  • Step 3: create a city Climate Plan. The baseline and reference scenarios would form the basis of comprehensive city Climate Plans. To ensure consistency of national and municipal policies, Climate Plans could be developed as a sub-component of member state National Energy and Climate Plans.
  • Step 4: track progress and allocate financial support. City progress reports on decarbonisation should be used by the EU to determine the eligibility of local governments for EU grants. Grants would be key to the success of this scheme. If EU money is given to a city to implement a project listed in its Climate Plan, it should be paid in in biennial tranches, conditional on positive progress reports.

A grant-based system would give the EU some control over the effective implementation of cities’ decarbonisation projects. EU countries could use city progress reports to provide fiscal incentives to cities that implement in practice their Climate Plans. This premium system would make economic sense for member states considering that the better cities perform in terms of decarbonisation, the easier it will be to achieve national decarbonisation targets.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

How to reform European transport and tackle rising emissions

The transport sector is the Europe's biggest obstacle to meeting its climate-change targets. But there are several ways in which the EU can take the initiative and lead both its citizens and its automotive industry in a cleaner direction. Bruegel fellows Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann discuss their research and policy conclusions in this episode of 'The Sound of Economics'

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate Date: April 24, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

May
3
12:30

Cleaning up Europe's transport sector: which strategies?

Over the last decade, EU’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased significantly in all sectors with the only exception of transport. This sector is thus becoming a key obstacle to EU decarbonisation and more aggressive policies are needed to decarbonise it. This event will discuss the potential strategies to structurally address this issue, also on the basis of Bruegel’s new policy proposal in the field.

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, Francesco Starace and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Book/Special report

Developing the EU long term climate strategy

To ensure that EU climate policy is in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and takes into account substantial recent shifts in the technical and political framework, the EU needs a new long-term climate strategy that will supersede the 2050 Roadmap that was issued in 2011.

By: Georg Zachmann and Andrei Marcu Topic: Energy & Climate Date: April 18, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Brief

Addressing Europe’s failure to clean up the transport sector

The European Union has the long-term vision to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 and it adopted in 2014 a binding 40 percent emissions reduction target to be achieved by 2030. Transport is therefore set to become the main obstacle to the achievement of the EU’s decarbonisation goals.

By: Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: April 9, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Do wide-reaching reform programmes foster growth?

With growth gathering momentum in the eurozone, some have claimed this is the proof that structural reforms implemented during the crisis are working, re-opening the long-standing debate on the extent to which reforms contribute to fostering long-term growth. This column employs a novel empirical approach – a modified version of the Synthetic Control Method – to estimate the impact of large reform waves implemented in the past 40 years worldwide.

By: Alessio Terzi and Pasquale Marco Marrazzo Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 28, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Could uncertainty derail the European recovery?

It is a contradictory time for Europe. The economy is recovering but the political climate is uncertain. There is excitement about common projects but also rifts and increasing nationalism and populism.

Speakers: Franco Bruni, Maria Demertzis, Zsolt Darvas and Marietje Schaake Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: March 22, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Which sectors would be most vulnerable to EU-US trade war?

As the US administration imposes new tariffs on steel and aluminium and considers further protectionist measures, we look at bilateral trade flows between the US and the EU28 across different types of products.

By: Francesco Chiacchio Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 15, 2018
Read article

Blog Post

Breaking the Stalemate on European Deposit Insurance

Many EU-level reports have highlighted a European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) as a necessary component of banking union, but none of these options has met sufficient consensus among euro-area countries. The authors of this blog propose to end the deadlock with an EDIS design that is institutionally integrated but financed in a way that is differentiated across countries.

By: Isabel Schnabel and Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Date: March 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Getting accustomed to Brexit - UK and the customs union scenario

The Labour Party’s support of customs union membership has the potential to change the course of Brexit, with 13 months left to close negotiations. This week we review the commentary around the possibility of a post-Brexit EU-UK Customs Union.

By: Inês Goncalves Raposo Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Euro-area governance: Where next?

Bruegel deputy director Maria Demertzis hosts this episode of 'The Sound of Economics', with Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs correspondent at the Financial Times, and Manfred Weber, chair of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, joining Bruegel director Guntram Wolff for a discussion of the future of euro-area governance.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 1, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Clouds are forming over Italy’s elections

While the prospect of a gridlock reassured investors about the short-term risk of an anti-establishment government, Italy still needs a profound economic shake-up and is in no position to afford months or years of dormant governments.

By: Alessio Terzi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: February 28, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Why a good Brexit outcome matters (and it’s not just the economy, stupid!)

Uncertainty still reigns over the future shape of the EU-UK relationship, as Brexit negotiations rumble on. Though the two parties are parting ways, a more cooperative approach from both would greatly improve the longer-term economic and political prospects for all concerned

By: Maria Demertzis and Nicola Viegi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: February 22, 2018
Load more posts