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Fair Energy Transition for All - How to get there?

Social EU / REPORT
Laura Rayner , Melanie Fessler

Date: 08/11/2022
Shifting Europe’s energy use onto a sustainable footing is an urgent priority for our planet. This requires replacing fossil fuels with renewables as well as cutting waste. Spurred by a fuel supply crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine, European governments have belatedly stepped up the pace of change.

However, haste has not always been a good counsellor. Well-meaning policies aimed at promoting cleaner energy and efficiency have, at times, stoked social division and further eroded trust in European democracies, letting populists equate green with mean elitism.

For two years, the Fair Energy Transition for All (FETA) project listened to the concerns and hopes of Europe’s most vulnerable citizens on the transition to green energy. The project aimed to create a blueprint for change that can ensure wide support and spread the benefits of the transition to those living in or close to poverty.

This final report presents an array of measures and tools that governments at all levels can use to facilitate a just transition to green energy. It advocates for fairness and well-being to be placed at the heart of policymaking, reinforced by EU fiscal rules, financial support, and convergence criteria. It calls for clear and frank communication between the government and the most vulnerable share of the population. It recommends developing new models to shift transport toward low-emission options. Finally, it argues that long-term financial support should target those who cannot afford insulation and new heating systems, encouraging landlords and owners to invest in housing energy renovations.

A successful energy transition requires effectively decarbonising our economy without sacrificing social cohesion, widening inequalities, or leaving workers without credible employment alternatives. It must consider and respond to the needs of those it affects the most. In Europe, there is public acceptance of the need for sacrifices. Even among the most vulnerable share of the population, there is an understanding and willingness to play a part in the energy transition. However, to succeed in the long term, fairness and equity must be as much the ambition of this transition as its other aims.

Read the full paper here.

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