Representatives of Island regional and local governments in collaboration with the member Industries of Greening The Islands held a meeting on 18 June in Brussels with the technical and political support of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) to discuss the role of island governments in designing and implementing National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).

EU Member States are expected to submit their 10-year National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) by the end of 2019. In that respect, the meeting co-organised by the CPMR Islands Commission aimed at debating on the content and objectives of national plans and strategies and on the role that island governments and the private sector should play in their design and implementation.

Islands are among the EU territories most exposed and vulnerable to the effects of climate change and Andrew Cooper, Councillor on Kirklees Council and Member of the Committee of the Regions, stressed that “clean energy transition in small/medium island is a complex issue due to geographical boundaries, the condition of the energy network, the cost of the fuels to be imported, the difficulty in reaching critical mass and economies of scale.”

In addition, Eleni Marianou, CPMR Secretary General, said: “Regional and local island governments have strong competencies in land use, economic development, housing, transport; they are therefore key stakeholders when it comes to planning the Energy transition and decarbonation of their economies.”

However, the NECPs drawn up by EU countries are lacking a strong territorial dimension and islands’ specific needs with regards to energy transition are not sufficiently considered. The CPMR Islands Commission and Greening the Islands are therefore calling on Member States to review their NECPs, and the European Commission to review their NECP methodology in order to include specific measures targeting islands.

These messages were conveyed in a joint declaration, adopted during the meeting, in which the CPMR Islands Commission and Greening the Islands are putting forward a multilateral ‘Islands Structured Dialogue’ to improve the participation of Island governments and the private sector in EU policy-making targeting islands.

Gianni Chianetta, Director of Greening t
he Islands, said: Today we kicked off an important multilateral dialogue with EU institutions responsible for promoting circular economy models on islands. Legislation and regulation regarding European islands need urgent revision to promote the implementation of innovative technologies, while an island decarbonisation indexcould track efforts toward sustainability and support effective mechanisms.

This meeting was therefore a key step towards closer collaboration between island administrations, business and European institutions to support the design and implementation of low-carbon solutions on European islands. Brendan Devlin, Advisor, DG ENER, claimed that “we need a strong sustainable long-term framework for future cooperation and we encourage all member states to work towards it, involving all the institutions, authorities, private sector and citizens”.

From the European Parliament, newly re-elected MEP Tonino Picula welcomed the Declaration and stated “Islands need adequate funding for all scales projects and adequate investment into research and innovation to find replicable solutions. We also need a legally-binding framework and I hope it will become reality during the Croatian Presidency next year.” Also newly re-elected MEP Alfred Sant added “I truly hope that an ‘Islands Structured Dialogue’ can be established as a platform to support energy transition in EU islands. However, this approach should not be limited to a ‘one size fits all’ island dimension: each island has its own characteristics, needs and assets.”

One important objective of the meeting was to show that the natural and geographical conditions of islands can, on the contrary, make them crucial laboratories for the transition to low-carbon future and to support the achievement of the EU’s energy transition objectives for 2030 and 2050.