Malta Political Declaration on European Islands
Following on from the Smart Islands Initiative, spearheaded by island local and regional authorities of the Members States signing the Smart Islands Declaration, momentum has been building up for national and European support for islands in Europe.
In the frame of the informal meeting of Energy ministers that took place in Valetta under the 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, Ministers of 14 Members States including from Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Italy, Croatia, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Estonia signed together with the European Commission a political declaration to launch the new “Clean Energy for EU Islands” initiative.
Unfortunately the UK was not represented, although Scotland is very much at the forefront of the Renewable Energy revolution. However these policies have the support of the Scottish Government, and Scotland through S.I.F. and the Islands Councils in the CPMR are actively representing local and regional stakeholders.
Clean Energy for EU Islands” initiative.
The initiative builds on the Commission’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” Communication of November 2016. The overall goal is for the EU to become a low carbon economy via transformation of its energy system by
- putting energy efficiency first
- achieving global leadership in renewable energies
- providing a fair deal for consumers
To start the transition process in the EU, the Initiative aims at first accelerating the clean energy transition on EU islands, by helping them reduce their dependency on energy imports through enhanced exploitation of their own renewable energy sources and uptake of more modern and innovative energy systems.
Members States expressed their full support to the Initiative as a stable, long-term framework that will help support replicable and scalable projects through the provision of financing and technical capacity for islands.
To this end, they invited other countries to join and:
- accelerate the clean energy transition on EU’s 2700 islands
- help islands reduce dependency and costs of energy imports by using RES
- embrace modern and innovative energy systems
- improve air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions
The Chania Inaugural Forum
The island of Crete hosted the Inaugural Forum on the “Clean Energy for All European Islands” initiative, part of the Winter Package, that was tabled by the European Commission last November under the title “Clean Energy for All Europeans”.
The Forum was organized by the European Commission and the Greek government with over 200 participants and close to 40 speakers taking the floor, representing an overwhelming endorsement by political representatives of national, regional and local level as well as industry and civil society stakeholders. Community Energy Scotland was invited to present the access project in Mull and other pioneering Scottish projects.
The islands are now widely recognised as platforms for pilot initiatives and showcases for success stories. Islands are:
- innovation leaders for integrating local RES production, storage facilities and demand response;
- demonstrating how decarbonisation creates resilient energy systems via reduced reliance on fossil fuel imports, the protection of environment, and autonomy of energy supply
- showing that energy transition can be a driver for economic development (new local jobs, new business opportunities, self-sufficiency of island communities)
The next measures are a Clean Energy Package to create the right legal framework (RES, consumers and stability for investment and a two directional approach for facilitation of transition and “island-frontrunners”: top-down and bottom up, as well as cooperation with national/regional organisations of islands
The EU commission has an ambitious objective: 1000 EU islands decarbonised by 2030!
A Clean EU Energy Islands Secretariat
The call for a Clean Energy EU island secretariat is a first step to ensure that islands can become platforms for pilot initiatives on clean energy transition and showcase success stories of islands’ transition at international level. The next step is to set up an Island Facility under Horizon 2020 to support the comprehensive energy transition in preparatory and implementation phase.
Based in Brussels but reaching out to the islands, the Secretariat’s aim is to carry out a benchmarking study on energy systems on islands and to assist the islands to design and prepare decarbonisation plans by providing dedicated capacity building, technical assistance and advisory services.
- It will create and manage a platform of exchange of practice for islands involved clean energy projects through a dedicated website which will also offer web-based tools to facilitate networking and exchanges.
- It will also organise Islands Initiative forums and islands technology fairs to bring together all interested parties including investors, to share best practice in financial and regulatory tools and promoting best available technologies, with the aim to take action on the ground.
- It will concentrate on identifying and executing clean energy projects that create local employment, community empowerment, as well as support growth in tourism, agriculture, fisheries and other important economic sectors on the islands through lower local energy pricesS.I.F. and ESIN are part of a bid to run the secretariat fronted by the CPMR, together with Community Energy Scotland. Their bid is the only one fronted by island organisations and is supported by the Scottish Government. The winning bid will be announced by July 2018.