STEP UP aims to enhance the existing Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) in the four cities and:
- Create a model for energy planning that will deliver faster and greater impact,contributing to meeting Europe’s 2020 energy and climate change targets;
- Help deliver wider policy objectives such as improving security of energy supplies, achieving urban regeneration, economic growth, tackling fuel poverty; and
- Make cities better places to live, work, learn, and do business.
The European Union has three climate change and energy targets by the year 2020:
- i) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%,
- ii) reach 20% energy from renewable sources and
- iii) increase energy efficiency to reduce energy consumption by 20%.
The EU is on track to meet its emissions and renewable targets but current estimates suggest that the EU is struggling to reach its objective to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy use.
Cities in Europe are responsible for approximately 75% of all energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions, and thus have a vital role play in achieving the EU’s climate and energy goals. However, as cities evolve to become more sustainable they face many barriers such as:
- Dealing with uncertainty and the evolving nature of cities
- Stakeholder buy-in and engagement
- Financing and investment
- Risk management
- Prioritization of energy actions based on cost and energy and climate impact in the cities.
The European Commission recognises the important role of cities and the difficult challenges they face and has launched a number of initiatives aimed at supporting cities to implement sustainable energy policy. For example, under the EU Covenant of Mayors, signatory cities commit to meeting or exceeding the EU’s 20% C02 reduction target. Through Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) signatory cities outline the activities, measures and time frames showing how they will reach the EU’s CO2 reduction target by 2020.
The Smart Cities and Communities Stakeholder Platform, launched in June 2011, is also aimed at supporting cities to work together and overcome the barriers in achieving their energy and climate goals. It focuses on demonstration projects and accelerating the deployment of best practice solutions for actions such as retrofitting buildings, transport and mobility and energy infrastructure for electricity and heating.
STEP UP aims to bring together excellence in energy planning and low carbon energy projects from the four partner cities to create a coherent and easy-to-use model for energy planning for dissemination across Europe.