EU islands have enormous potential to benefit from the clean energy transition and become front runners in it: this was the broad consensus that emerged from the inaugural Clean Energy for EU Islands forum today (22 September) in Chania, Greece. After opening speeches from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy Miguel Arias Cañete, other distinguished speakers including Greece's Minster for Energy, Environment & Climate Change Giorgos Stathakis and Malta's Energy Minister Joe Mizzi addressed an audience of representatives from EU islands, island associations, the EU, national and local administrations, and the energy industry.
The discussions centred on issues such as how the EU's more than 2000 inhabited islands can reduce their dependence on fossil fuel imports, become self-reliant in energy by generating more energy from renewable sources, improve energy efficiency, and deploy low emissions transport solutions, all while creating jobs and economic growth. The forum agreed that input from this event should feed into the discussions about islands in the margins of the COP23 in Bonn in November, hosted by Fiji, and that there should be a follow-up EU event next year to take the initiative forward.
In his opening remarks, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said:
We are determined to implement swiftly and fully the Paris climate agreement & take an active role in the global transition to clean energy. Inequalities in clean energy access find a reflection in social inequalities. Affordable clean energy for everyone is empowering.
Commissioner Arias Cañete told the forum:
The evolution of technology means the potential for reducing energy costs on islands and moving towards energy autonomy has never been greater. Established in the context of the Clean Energy for all Europeans package, this Clean Energy Island initiative is set up to assist and accelerate this process.
Examples of best practice and current research were reviewed as the debate considered the new technologies available to ensure island communities become more energy efficient and use more renewables, supported by innovative storage technologies and low emissions transport solutions.
The Forum was organised as part of the Commission's Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative launched in Malta in May 2017, which aims to provide a long term framework to help islands generate their own sustainable, low-cost energy. Its aims are set in out in the Valetta declaration signed at the time.
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