A group of European mayors have published an 'emergency plan' to help tackle spiralling fossil fuel prices and prevent millions of people being pushed into energy poverty.
The mayors from the C40 Cities network said that the energy poverty crisis has been driven by poor historic decision-making, and called on national governments to provide “immediate financial support” for the most vulnerable citizens.
This would involve giving cities powers to take locally appropriate measures for residents that boost incomes, such as supporting access to energy efficiency measures, and giving advice to reduce bills.
The emergency plan also calls for “windfall taxes” on the “super profits” of energy companies to fund support for the most vulnerable, and for governments to dramatically reduce gas dependency by boosting investment in renewables and retrofits.
Mayors from Barcelona, Glasgow, Heidelberg, London, Milan, Oslo and Warsaw vowed to work together with unions to deliver the plan, which has been endorsed by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The organisation's executive director, Dr Fatih Birol, said that city-led action is a vital component of the IEA’s own recent 10-point plan to reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian natural gas, including faster deployment of residential solar and installation of heat pumps.
“Pump prices and energy bills have shot up as a result of Russia’s aggression, but we can reduce both the harm being faced by vulnerable consumers and Russia’s fossil fuel revenues if we take action to cut demand for oil and gas imports today,” he continued.
“Countries, cities, households and businesses must prioritise energy conservation, energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies now. Mayors and national governments must support them by unlocking clean energy policies and investment on an unprecedented scale.”
Analysis by the C40 network shows that 55% of gas consumption in member cities is used for heating and cooling in residential buildings, and that there are three times more jobs in European energy efficiency and retrofit markets than would be created by investment in fossil gas.
The group said that the opportunities in retrofitting and renewables must be seized now to help end fuel poverty and create good paying jobs for those who need them most.
Mayor of London and C40 chair, Sadiq Khan, said: “The climate emergency is the biggest global threat we face today, and our reliance on fossil fuels has left us vulnerable to sky-rocketing prices.
“Moving to clean energy will not only help save our planet, but create many highly skilled, well-paid green jobs. We must all play our part in helping cities around the world become greener, fairer and more prosperous for all. The time to act is now.”
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