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18 June 2024

EU Covenant of Mayors Unveils Heating and Cooling Detox Initiative during EUSEW session organised by the European Energy Award, the Covenant of Mayors Europe Office and the Smart Cities Marketplace

Visual EUSEW Session

To combat climate change, the EU Covenant of Mayors has launched a groundbreaking Heating and Cooling Detox campaign, stressing the urgent need for cities to cleanse their heating and cooling systems.

In the session “Exploring the heat map: inspiring approaches to sustainable urban heat planning” at EUSEW 2024, the EU Covenant of Mayors introduced this campaign to revolutionise how urban areas approach energy consumption and climate action. 

Claudia Canevari, Head of Unit Energy Efficiency, Policy and Financing Directorate-General for Energy, European Commission introduced the session focusing on the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) recast, which strongly emphasises addressing local issues such as heating and cooling plans. This revamped directive sets ambitious targets, including the meticulous mapping of heat and cool requirements for cities with populations exceeding 45,000, thereby encompassing a staggering 1300 cities across the continent.

To share inspiring approaches to local heat planning, Gudrun Heute-Bluhm, President of the European Energy Award, shared her journey as a mayor, underscoring the role of practical support for cities embarking on heating planning initiatives. She stressed the importance of financial assistance, guidance, regulation and technical expertise to navigate the complexities of sustainable energy transition.

Christian Jorgensen, representing the Danish Embassy, highlighted the significance of partnerships in achieving climate goals, citing the Energy Governance Partnership between Denmark and Germany as a testament to the power of collaboration in driving meaningful change.

The subsequent panel discussion delved deep into the challenges of decarbonising heating systems, addressing challenges ranging from securing financing to ensuring accessibility for low-income households and how initiatives such as the European Energy Award, the Covenant of Mayors Europe and the Smart Cities Marketplace can support local authorities with their services to overcome these challenges. Ina Berzina-Vieta, Managing Director of a heat supplier in Latvia, shared her experience of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, emphasising the critical role of public support in facilitating the shift. 

The Deputy Mayor of Kozani, Georgios Alexandridis touched base upon the challenge of the transition from coal based, thermal energy supply that is an affordable heating source for over 25.000 inhabitants of Kozani into an environmentally and economically sustainable solution. Plans to include natural gas and a photovoltaic park are being promoted as the support of the citizens is crucial for this transition.

Christoph Schnaudigel, County Councillor, City of Karlsruhe included the regional level of urban and rural areas in the discussion. His main message was to underline the importance of collaboration between the authorities and combine competencies to bring forward the implementation of the energy transition.

Peter Lichtenwöhrer from the City of Vienna introduced the newly promoted Heating Plan 2040, being a part of the program to phase out gas in households by 2040. This plan informs residents about the designated areas for district heating, heating networks, and local individual heating. It seeks to raise awareness of the various heating options available in Vienna and encourage people to connect to the existing district heating infrastructure.

The campaign's launch of the Covenant of Mayors Europe is one further instrument to showcase the determination of cities to take tangible steps towards a sustainable future. With innovative solutions and collaborative efforts at the forefront, the Heating and Cooling Detox Campaign promises to usher in a new era of environmental stewardship, setting a precedent for cities worldwide to follow suit.