To avoid catastrophic climate change we need to dramatically reduce emissions. Large areas of our world are already experiencing man-made climate change and unless we take urgent action the impacts will be much more devastating.
Europe is responsible for a large proportion of the emissions that are already in the atmosphere. Friends of the Earth Europe believes those most responsible for climate change must lead on climate action. We need to reduce Europe's emissions by 95% by 2050 and we need to start now.
To make this reduction Friends of the Earth Europe believes that we need to reduce energy consumption and switch to renewables as rapidly as possible. Electricity production will need to almost entirely come from renewable energy sources including solar, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal and small hydroelectric. Moving off fossil fuels and onto renewables, in combination with strong energy efficiency measures, will cut emissions and reduce our over-dependence on energy imports. Renewable energy also has the potential to create long-term, sustainable, green jobs.
Current energy systems are dominated by a small number of large energy corporations who wield control over our energy production and pricing. Their seek to maximise their profits and ignore other considerations such as using less energy and reducing emissions. We think our energy future should be in the hands of citizens rather than the hands of a few small profit-driven organisations.
By putting people’s ownership and community benefits at the heart of renewable energy we can achieve an energy transition more quickly, fairly and with added social benefits. There are already a growing number of communities and citizens groups involved in producing renewable energy. There is a Europe-wide movement benefiting from and taking control of energy ownership.
These groups take a wide variety of forms: villages that own wind turbines in a nearby field, co-operatives which produce and supply renewable electricity, community action groups aiming to reduce energy consumption in their area, residents of apartment blocks who collectively own solar panels on their roofs.
This is a growing movement whose time has come. Those involved are already benefiting from involvement in energy projects. These benefits are as diverse as the projects themselves. Investors are seeing paybacks from buying shares, funds are becoming available to strengthen community clubs and other voluntary groups, people are gaining pride and confidence by working together to achieve something, and many people are receiving free or cheaper energy.
There are wide-ranging benefits to society and government from greater uptake of community energy. It can mobilise much need funds for the transition to a clean energy system. It creates greater involvement in energy planning and these active energy citizens are involved in overcoming the challenges of energy transition.
Friends of the Earth Europe is working at European level to remove barriers to the development of community energy. We are bringing the voices of energy communities on the ground to decision-makers in Brussels and in European capitals. We work with diverse allies to co-ordinate the growing movement of energy citizens across Europe. We aim to provide decision-makers with the information and inspiration they need to facilitate more and more communities to own and run their own, clean energy supply.
Community Power is a project in 12 European countries aiming to put people at the heart of increased renewable energy. The project partners are Friends of the Earth Europe, Friends of the Earth groups in Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Hungary, Denmark, and Czech Republic; CEE Bankwatch; Ecopower; WIP; ICLEI and Client Earth.
The sole responsibility for the content of this lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union. Neither the EACI nor the European Commission are responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.