Using European funds to enhance local climate action plans

The European Union offers a wide range of incentives for local administrations to support and accelerate their local climate and energy policies and investments. The available means are however scattered over different European programs and funds. For smaller municipalities, it remains difficult to find the necessary subsidies to support their plans and even if they know of them, the application process can be challenging and time consuming.

IGEMO, as an intermunicipal organisation for 12 local administrations in the Mechelen region (between Antwerp and Brussels), is dedicated to unburdening its municipalities and making sure they find the necessary means for the goals set in their Climate and Energy Action Plans (SECAP’s). IGEMO has a dedicated subsidy officer that scans European calls and signals ways of integrating them into existing plans and schemes.

To make this approach more concrete, consider following examples. In the Interreg Flanders-The Netherlands program, IGEMO in 2016 joined the See2Do project. It aims at showing visually, through thermographic scans of houses, where energy and heat losses occur and what measures could be implemented to remediate this. Several municipalities in the Mechelen region joined this project under IGEMO guidance and were that pleased of the results that a subsequent project is already in the pipeline. In ‘From Thermoscan to Renofan’ IGEMO and its municipalities will be encouraging citizens to actually renovate their homes according to the results of the prior thermoscans. These funds come from the Flemish Ministry of Environment, which shows the accelerating effect of European funds. IGEMO aims at renovating 1600 homes in our municipalities’ territory in three years’ time.

An equally ambitious renovation project is also around the corner. IGEMO submitted a project under the ELENA scheme (European Local Energy Assistance) called SUPRA, which stands for ‘Speed Up Renovation through Accompaniment’. Four renovation specialists will assist 1200 home owners through the process of refurbishing their properties, ensuring a total investment cost of 18 million euro over 3 years. The partners hope to get started with this one in the spring of 2020.

These are just a couple of examples of how European funds can help at meeting climate targets. In IGEMO’s case, we could also mention the 2IMPREZS project under the Interreg North Sea Region program, where pupils in schools are being taught to reduce energy use by analysing data from smart energy meters in the school buildings. There is also the SLIC (Smart Light Concepts) project under the Interreg 2 Seas program, in which the energy use and carbon emissions from public lighting is reduced by 20% through innovative smart LED lighting, dimming lights in combination with movement sensors and other measures. But also in the mobility field, subsidies for integrated mobility hubs or electric charging stations are just waiting to be used by local municipalities.
Having a dedicated subsidy officer on board for your local administration, intermunicipal organisation or region could very well be one of the best measures to implement in terms of return on investment, for both climate action plans as other policy initiatives.