The writer is the Chief Executive Officer of the European Climate Foundation
In Europe’s coldest months, businesses and households are facing gas prices that have more than quadrupled since last year. This can be indefinitely frustrated if European leaders do not end their dependence on fossil fuels.
The gas price crisis and rising geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine have re-emphasized that Europe needs a safe local supply of renewable energy and reduces gas consumption.
Over 40% of EU gas Import Is used to heat buildings, and one-third of European homes use gas to heat. Reducing energy demand and accelerating the use of renewable energy through more insulated homes will help put Europe’s energy dependence on a new foundation.
Before the gas price crisis, and before the pandemic and the highest inflation in decades, 50 million Europeans, or one in four households, already Struggle I can afford to heat it. Even families who were not personally exposed to the threat of energy poverty were directly affected. Gas companies across Europe are closing and closing doors to new customers. In one case in the Netherlands, 90,000 customers saw their bills suddenly double after the provider was acquired.
Brussels has already promised a “wave of innovation” as part of the EU Green Deal. Now is the time for member states to start this in earnest. Shortly before the end of last year, the European Commission proposed a new law to renovate the most energy-hungry buildings prior to yet another EU summit discussing the energy price crisis. Approximately € 18 trillion is available, including € 670 billion from the Recovery Fund, one-third of which is allocated to climate change measures. Research Showing that people want to live in energy-efficient homes, they expect the government to accelerate the transition to more environmentally friendly buildings.
We need to align this political will and the desires of the people with the vision of reliable financing of the warm and affordable homes we want to live in and the laws and policies to make it happen.
To reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, we also need to change the way homes are built, insulated and heated. The early effects of climate change are already significant in Europe.Recent model by the Euro Mediterranean Center on Climate Change Indicated As temperatures rise, heat waves can increase at least 10-fold by 2050.
Some have already responded.Helsinki — 300,000 households, harsh winters — Clear plan By 2035, it will be climate-neutral and heating coal and gas will be completely phased out.In France, the Abbé Pierre Foundation trial A support system to help low-income people invest in the renovation of their homes. The Netherlands has 50 “natural gas-free districts” where the government resides. support Alternative low carbon heat source.
This is a great economic opportunity to rebuild the post-pandemic economy and bring us closer to net zero. Home remodeling can create millions of jobs, especially for small businesses.In Spain alone, according to trade unions, energy efficiency refurbishment Create a work For almost 500,000 people.
At all levels, expertise shows that in pursuit of this campaign, we are renovating our home and now clarifying the social benefits of doing it.
Throughout Europe, the poorest performing homes in terms of energy efficiency are disproportionately occupied by low-income households, and so far they have largely missed renovations. Targeting these homes can reduce energy poverty and ensure that families in greatest need of the benefits of the Green Deal feel.
Better homes also improve air quality and reduce significant quantities Impact on public health It is associated with respiratory illness due to having to withstand the cold and humidity, and other effects on people who spend more than 90% of their time in improperly designed spaces.
This is a moment of ambition and investment in Europe. Resources and tools are there, as are the strong calls for climate change in all recent elections across EU member states.
Without decisive change, we face tough and difficult battles to seize these obvious opportunities while reducing energy prices. That is, there is no risk of geopolitical interference or climate change.
Appetite is there, and there is courage to ingenuity. We need to harness this energy in a comprehensive and fair refurbishment effort. This allows Europeans to see and feel that Green Deal is improving the lives of their homes.
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