© European Union, 2017. Photo: Stefanos Rapanis
European Union institutions and energy industry representatives have come together for the inaugural Clean Energy for EU Islands forum in Chania, Greece, to explore ways for the region’s 2,200 inhabited islands to benefit from the clean energy transition.
Participants including Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy Miguel Arias Cañete talked about how European islands can reduce their dependence on fossil fuel imports, become self-reliant in energy and deploy low emissions transport solutions, all while creating jobs and economic growth. The event will feed into the discussions about islands in the margins of the COP23 in November.
“The situation in islands requires a particular focus,” Commissioner Arias Cañete said. “The evolution of technology means that the potential for reducing these [high energy] costs and moving towards energy autonomy has never been greater.”
“EU islands are in many ways ideally placed to become frontrunners of the energy transition,” he added.
Dominique Ristori, Director-General for Energy at the European Commission, spoke about decarbonising EU islands and said that this energy transition offers important economic opportunity for all sectors.
Pierre Jean Coulon, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society, focused his comments on the importance of involving society in the energy transition. “Currently there’s a big gap between some countries, between cities, rural areas and islands,” Coulon said. “And for us, from a civic society point of view, it’s important to boost the prospects of islands in the field of energy, in the field of transport,” he added, mentioning that the EESC is working on Smart Islands.
“The political forum in Crete provides a key starting point,” said Gianni Chianetta, who was invited as an expert representing the Greening the Islands initiative. “This transition can only be achieved through joint effort by all stakeholders and we need to move fast to share and replicate best practices on legislation and technology solutions, which is a fundamental part of our work. Indeed, this will be our focus in Favignana at the upcoming Greening the Islands conference on 3-4 November.”
The Forum was organised as part of the Commission’s Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative launched in Malta in May 2017 to provide a long term framework to help islands generate their own sustainable, low-cost energy.