The GENOA (Italy) Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP, 2009) is a comprehensive document which conforms with the Covenant of Mayors (COM) initiative of the European Commission, in which each signatory participant (usually city mayor) makes a voluntary and unilateral commitment to reduce the settlement’s CO2 emissions beyond the target of 20% by 2020 set by the EU. The GENOA SEAP was prepared in collaboration with the Liguria Regional Energy Agency and the University of Genoa and is a key document defining the government’s energy policies (local transport, public and private buildings, renewable energy sources and innovative technologies). for the next 10 years.
Context: The Perceived Problem
After adoption of the EU Climate and Energy Package in 2008 which was drawn up due to increasing concerns about high oil and gas prices and worries about Europe's increasing dependency on external suppliers of fuel as well as the potential impacts of climate change, the European Commission (DG Energy), in order to support the efforts of local authorities to implement more sustainable energy policies and recognising that 80% of energy consumption and CO2 emissions are associated with urban activity, launched the Covenant of Mayors. The City of Genoa signed up to the Covenant of Mayors on 10 February 2009 as a natural outcome of the long-standing commitment of the city to curbing its CO2 emissions.
Initiative Solution and Process
“The Covenant of Mayors is a mainstream European movement involving local and regional authorities in the fight against climate change. It is based on a voluntary commitment by signatories to meet and exceed the EU 20% CO2 reduction objective through increased energy efficiency and development of renewable energy sources and to endorse and support the efforts deployed by local authorities in the implementation of sustainable energy policies” (http://www.eumayors.eu/index_en.html). So far there have been 2595 signatories to the COM representing over 126 million residents. The City of Genoa signed up to COM in 2009 and has been developing over the last decade an integrated sustainable energy action plan (SEAP) which is part of a 10-point master plan for sustainable growth for Genoa. The scope of the SEAP is very broad and includes increasing the energy efficiency of council buildings, rationalising the transport system, improving take-up of renewable energy sources, etc.
Contraction and Convergence Elements
The Convent of Mayors has contraction of the European urban carbon dioxide footprint as a primary goal. GENOA SEAP is designed to achieve the same goal for the municipality through an integrated and rationalised approach to energy consumption in the areas of mobility, the built environment, education and an increase in the use of renewable energy. By signing the COM, Genoa’s mayor has made an explicit non-binding commitment to meet and exceed the 20% by 2020 carbon dioxide reduction target set by the EU (specifically, to reduce CO2 emissions in year 2020 by 23.7% compared to the baseline year 2005).
Neither the Covenant of Mayors nor GENOA SEAP are primarily designed to tackle social justice issues. Nonetheless, social equity is addressed and somewhat integrated into the implementation plans for Genoa’s SEAP - for example, by supporting public transport as an alternative to private, reclamation and regeneration of local suburban areas, encouraging organised forms of stakeholder/community participation in urban planning and development, improving the quality of urban infrastructure and the quality of life of the community and targeting "social integration as a cornerstone of urban planning and architecture".
The number of signatories to the Covenant of Mayors has grown rapidly since inception and 430 Sustainable Energy Action Plans have been submitted by Signatories (as of 2011) while 32 signatories have been suspended for failing to show sufficient commitment to COM targets. The very active initiative website supplies a range of implementation and promotional support, guidelines for municipalities on creating and implementing SEAP and best practice case studies. Genoa SEAP, meanwhile, is still in the process of implementation. Representatives from Genoa municipality are using their experiences with SEAP to play an active role in regional European projects such as EnSURE which is aimed at developing innovative approaches to raising energy efficiency through urban development.
A number of videos of speeches and discussions from representatives of signatory municipalities can be found on the Covenant of Mayors website
Further reading about The Covenant of Mayors and the City of Genoa SEAP
Short European Commission statement on Covenant of Mayors Sustainable Energy Action plans accessible at: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/climate_actions/mayors/doc/action_plan_guidance_elements_en.pdf
Free Covenant of Mayors supporting documents (e.g. technical and methodological guidance for developing Urban Sustainable Energy Action Plans) can be found on the official COM website: http://www.eumayors.eu/support/library_en.html
Piers, R. Sustainable Energy & Covenant of Mayors in our cities. Presentation given at a Capacity Building Workshop, Brasov, 2010. European Commission Joint Research Centre. Accessible at: http://www.managenergy.net/lib/documents/60/original_seap_en.pdf (this is a good introduction to how the COM works and how it is related to urban SEAPs. Additionally, many examples contained in the presentation are taken from the Genoa SEAP).