From policy learning to policy change: The Energy Transition Platform

Anne-Sophie Dörnbrack
Reading time: 3 minutes
30 May 2018

Today, we are concluding our Energy Transition Platform with an event in Brussels. For the last two years, the Energy Transition Platform has connected 11 highly industrialized states and regions, supporting them to exchange, learn from and adopt innovative clean energy policies.

Three of the main sectors contributing to global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are industry (32%), buildings (18%) and energy (11%) (including indirect emissions; IPCC, 2014). To reach a world of under 2°C of global warming without delay, we need to tackle these sectors first and foremost.

This is particularly challenging for highly industrialized regions, but effective exchange on policy successes and failures can help to speed up the transition. Through the Energy Transition Platform’s Innovation Labs, small groups of governments worked in depth on the topics of industry engagement, renewable energy and building efficiency to develop policy actions together.

For all three topics, finding an attractive narrative and ensuring stakeholders are engaged in an inclusive way are key to a to a successful clean energy transition, but often this is often not seen as a priority. Subnational governments specifically can make a significant difference here, as they bridge the gap between citizens and the national and international authorities.

Developing community renewable schemes

One way to make the energy transition more tangible for citizens is to demonstrate its benefits by involving them every step of the way. Community renewables – renewable installations that are owned by, or bring significant benefits to, residents and local organizations – are a great example of an inclusive transition.

The governments of Alberta, the Basque Country, Minnesota and Wales discussed the best engagement and funding models for community renewable schemes, as well as the challenge of integrating small-scale, decentralized community energy into the grid. The experience of the other regions helped the Canadian province of Alberta to develop a stakeholder consultation process which informed their draft legislation for community renewable energy.

Engaging with industry stakeholders

To achieve their ambitious climate targets, state and regional governments need to work closely with industry, incentivizing and supporting them to reduce GHG emissions from their operations. Minnesota, North Rhine-Westphalia and Wales discussed how they could overcome the apparent tension between economic growth, international competitiveness and long-term decarbonization strategies. It showed that a comprehensive and consistent approach to industry engagement, coupled with an effort to maintain positive relationships between all key stakeholders are crucial.

Improving energy efficiency in buildings

Improving energy efficiency in buildings is one of the most cost-competitive ways to reduce emissions, yet retrofitting rates in industrialized regions are nowhere near what is needed to substantially decarbonize the sector. Although it is often the national governments’ role to set

building codes, state and regional governments have many other levers of action, including developing sustainable financing and investment models, particularly for the existing building stock.

Another area of exchange between the governments of Alberta, California, Basque Country, Lombardy, North Rhine-Westphalia, Silesia and Wales was the need for increased capabilities, both within municipalities and the retrofitting supply chain.

From policy learning to policy change

The Energy Transition Platform has demonstrated that peer learning between governments – on a global scale – can spark innovative ideas, but different contexts and capacities make it important to think beyond best practice sharing. To achieve the shift from policy learning to policy change, regional differences should be kept in mind and policies be viewed within the whole context, which includes everything from key stakeholders, enabling conditions and barriers, to the region’s cultural and socio-economic context.

Long-term and effective projects are needed to ensure a strong policy impact. Through our Under2 Policy Action work, we will continue collaborating with ambitious states and regions to accelerate climate action.

Learn more about the Energy Transition Platform and explore examples of the innovative action governments are taking in our interactive map.

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