An EU-funded research team has studied the impacts of economics, social cohesion, technology as well as geopolitical and environmental issues on secure and sustainable energy supplies in Europe. They developed a pioneering citizen manifesto for energy governance and the transition to reliable, renewable sources.
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Driven by growing awareness of the threat that climate change poses to societies in the coming decades and the very real risk of a widening energy gap the EU-funded MILESECURE-2050 project set out to explore how Europe could achieve energy security while addressing complex and sometimes contradictory environmental and social forces.
Project coordinator Patrizia Lombardi of Italys Politechnico di Torino explains: Energy supply security and climate-friendly energy systems are crucial to the European Energy Union, but often conversations on security and decarbonisation run on parallel tracks. As the EU envisions its energy trajectory for the coming decades, our research has tried to understand if the sustainability and security conversations can be brought closer together.
The EUs Energy Union and Climate Action are built around a strategy to help Europe make the sustainable transition from fossil fuels to a low-carbon, secure and competitive economy. Secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy is critical to achieving Climate Energy Union goals.
MILESECURE-2050s partners from 10 institutions in 8 EU countries developed guidelines and new governance models for energy transition. This work underpinned the existing knowledge-base and policy framework supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and societies in Europe.
They identified the context through which energy security is defined and managed at the global, European, national and local scales, including sustainable cities. And from that, the team produced quantitative and qualitative models and scenarios for the evolution of energy security both within and outside the EU.
The people factor
The changes needed to achieve the transition to reliable renewable energy sources are fundamental, and people are important sources of knowledge, according to MILESECURE-2050s pioneering citizen-led energy transition governance manifesto.
Because of the far-reaching consequences of energy transitions, it is vital to make use of the widest possible range of knowledge: not only technological and scientific expertise, but also local, practical and even tacit knowledge, knowledge created by civil society, and anticipatory perspectives on how society should be organised, notes the manifesto.
As such, the project explored wider socio-economic factors to establish more inclusive human-based governance models to the energy transition. It created a database of some 1 500 European case studies representing anticipatory experiences of energy transition (AEs) which developed environmentally sustainable ways of producing, consuming and transporting energy.
MILESECURE-2050 also identified and clustered driving factors of sustainable, secure energy transition in three main domains: market, external and governance factors; social, political movement and grassroots factors; and personal, cultural and site-specific factors. The consortium partners then developed a set of energy transition scenarios up to 2050.
Although the project officially finished at the end of 2015, its findings have been disseminated at meetings and exhibitions throughout 2016, and will continue to be in the years to come.
Today, cities and urban areas account for 60 to 80 % of global energy consumption and around the same share of CO2 emissions. In recognition of this trend, two MILESECURE-2050 partners have opted to continue working together in a different EU project named POCACITO focusing on a decarbonisation roadmap at city level. Other partners are working on disseminating MILESECURE-2050s results, including through Open Access journals, and plan to collaborate further on decarbonisation research projects.