Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Quarterly Newsletter February 2012  
French local communities join forces within the Covenant of Mayors
{{{Interview with Denis Baupin, Deputy Mayor of Paris.}}} Denis Baupin is Deputy Mayor of Paris, one of the Covenant of Mayors signatory cities, and coordinator of the [French Club of signatories->], an exchange platform open to all committed mayors across France. He is also vice-president of [Energy Cities->]. Following the creation of the Covenant of Mayors French Club, a new milestone was reached in January of this year, with the launch of the "Alliance for Local Energy", which will seek to pool the know-how and experience of the public, private and associative sectors to accelerate the transition towards a fairer and more sustainable economy.

Interviewed by the Covenant of Mayors Office, Denis Baupin shares some insight into the thinking behind this new venture.

After the creation of the French Club of Covenant Signatories in October of last year, 2012 brings with it the launch of a whole new concept, the “French Alliance for Local Energy”. Could you elaborate on this and tell us what has driven the creation of this new platform?

The thinking behind the creation of this Alliance is fairly straightforward: the current consumption and production model has shown its limits, we can no longer afford the status quo and have to move fast towards an energy transition. This transition will not be brought about by technology innovations alone. First and foremost, we will need social engineering, new forms of working together and pooling skills and resources to face common problems. Energy cannot be seen as a one-way commodity anymore, but as a question that concerns us all, and to which we all have something to contribute.

It is also a field of action that is best addressed at local and regional levels, where the energy is consumed and where natural resources can be leveraged.

In view of these considerations, we decided to launch the Alliance for Local Energy, which brings together Covenant of Mayors Signatories and all the socio-economic actors having a stake in this transition. They include professional associations, universities and academic bodies, energy agencies, associations of local authorities, industry players, NGOs and so forth.

The objectives of the Alliance, in cooperation with the French Club, will be to exchange views on the energy transition, emphasize the leverage effect of decentralised energy concepts and techniques to boost local development and formulate recommendations to national and European decision-makers and institutions. In doing so, we help our government in fulfilling its 3x20 climate and energy commitments. Similar initiatives are being implemented in a dozen of other countries, with the help of NET-COM, a European project co-financed by the Intelligent Energy-Europe Programme (IEE) of the European Commission.

How do you intend to reach out to national and European institutions? Have you already initiated such a process?

Yes. On behalf of the Covenant of Mayors French Club, I addressed a letter to European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger, in which the club welcomes the policy orientations that have been taken so far in support of the Covenant of Mayors, such as the launch of the ELENA facility, and in which we emphasize the crucial role played by the IEE programme – instrumental to foster implementation of EU policy objectives – as well as the Commission’s proposal for the Energy Efficiency Directive to refurbish public buildings at the rate of 3% per year. Likewise, we welcome several aspects of the Commission’s proposal for the Future of the Cohesion Policy, including the obligation for certain categories of regions to allocate 20% of the funds to energy efficiency measures.

We also took the opportunity of the letter to highlight that the economic crisis presents an opportunity – rather than an obstacle - for the implementation of energy and climate policies. The Covenant of Mayors has already proven to be a key enabler in this regard, not least because it fosters action in the fields of housing, transport and local energy production. Such measures boost local economic activity – notably through investments in energy refurbishment projects and decentralised energy production – and foster job creation.

In a centralised country like France, the Covenant of Mayors also acts as a catalyst to scale-up local initiatives, as demonstrated by the launch of the French Club and Alliance.

We thus hope the Commissioner will continue to actively support the Covenant of Mayors and thereby help local and regional authorities to translate European objectives into tangible, citizen-oriented benefits.

Last but not least, we will seek to influence the legislative process at national level – and have adopted a roadmap identifying upcoming measures to be taken to this end.

On February 16 the European Commission inaugurated the Urban Forum 2012, to initiate a dialogue with mayors on integrated urban development. How do you see the Covenant fit within this process?

I believe it is a good thing that several Covenant of Mayors Signatories have been invited to take part in this dialogue platform. In fact, mayors committed to the Covenant should all have a say in this process, directly or through representatives of national clubs. They are indeed crucial partners of the institutions, as they are voluntarily committed to meeting and exceeding European objectives and have pledged to regularly report on their activities. They are thus very well placed to issue recommendations on future policy developments that concern urban development.

Likewise, energy is a cross-sectoral issue and the Covenant of Mayors methodology calls for an integrated approach to sustainable energy management. In light of this, Covenant Signatories can not only bring insight into the debate on integrated planning but also hands-on contributions on more concrete, thematic issues related to energy.

I believe another key objective of this process is to set the course for the future cohesion policy. In this regard, we as Covenant of Mayors Signatories have great expectations. One of them is to see the wish of European Parliament Member Jan Olbrycht come true: make the adoption of a Sustainable Energy Action Plan an eligibility criterion for the allocation of structural funds. This would motivate other cities to follow suit and adopt a plan, moving from intention to action.

    >> Covenant Monthly Newsletter February 2012 <<
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  The sole responsibility for the content of this newsletter lies with the Covenant of Mayors Office. It does not necessary reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. The Covenant of Mayors was set up with financial support of the European Commission and consists of five associations of European local authorities: Energy Cities, Climate Alliance, Eurocities, CEMR, and Fedarene.

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