An unprecedented energy crisis caused by historically high energy costs, enormous supply unpredictability since the start of the war in Ukraine, and Europe’s reliance on Russian energy calls for new energy strategies. The sharp rise in energy poverty circumstances is about to have an immediate negative impact on people’s health and well-being and worsen gender inequalities.
At the RenewPAC Conference in Marrakech, Renew Europe CoR President Francois Decoster made clear that in order to stabilise the European energy market, “We need to find new ways of cooperation to combat energy challenges on a local level. These types of new cooperation should also be expressed in any way of the European-African relationships and projects”.
During the meeting, Decoster referred to Renew Europe member Vincent Chauvet, Mayor of Autun, who also expressed at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh that it is a must to draw the efforts of communities together in order to cooperate on energy topics. It is now more than ever important that local and regional authorities prepare energy transitions and work innovatively for renewable energy solutions, said Decoster.
As member of the Hauts-de-France regional parliament and mayor of Saint-Omer, Decoster represents the perspective of a region that has a lot of tradition and whose employment is dependent on the industrial sector. When creating plans for energy management, Decoster outlined the following three crucial steps:
1. Consume less energy, e.g., by minimising the heating of buildings or swimming pools. Raise the overall awareness of energy consumption habits.
2. Focus on modification of equipment that is consuming energy and switch to alternatives that are efficient regarding consumption and performance.
3. Consider renewable energies differently. Decoster presented the best practice of the City of Saint-Omer where the focus will be on solar energy and encouragement of urban changes.
A commitment to energy transition indicated that it is necessary to act and “dream” with European and African partners. According to Decoster, the “new energy cooperation for and with Africa are a new type of win-win partnership that should be further explored”. In this regard, he presented a best-practice from his region Hauts-de-France to the audience:
“Every year, Hauts-de-France finances a number of projects that involve at least two actors of the region, e.g., a university and another partner in Africa to boost energy transition. The most recent project is a photovoltaic system.”
This showcases the immediate application of renewable energy strategies and the profitability of sharing the know-how and experience between the two continents. These types of cooperation started in 2018 and outcomes were very successful since.
The RenewPAC Conference was organized by Renew Europe in the European Parliament and took place in Marrakech from 4 to 6 December 2022. The annual conference gathers liberal and democratic political leaders and aims for the reinforcement of liberal cooperation of the European, Pacific, African and Caribbean countries and regions. François Decoster, President of Renew Europe in the European Committee of the Regions, chaired the fringe meeting on “Seeking Joint Responses to the New Energy and global challenges in cooperation with Renew Europe CoR” with speakers Martina Dlabajova and Jan-Christoph Oetjen, Renew Europe MEPs, Adama Bitongo, former African Integration Minister for Ivory Coast, Youssef Amrani, Moroccan ambassador to the European Union and Didier Budimbu, Minister for hydro fuels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.