The planetary climate crisis induced by the excessive emission of greenhouse gases has reinforced the emergence of policies aimed at the production and consumption of more efficient energy sources and to promote the development and use of technologies powered by renewable energy sources.
In light of this need, the European Union has defined a series of objectives on climate and energy for 2020: a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels, to reduce the amount of primary energy by 20%, increase the share of energy from renewable sources up to 20% of the total.
Even more ambitious targets are planned for 2030: cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels, increasing of the share of energy from renewable sources in the total consumption of the European Union to 27%, increasing target energy efficiency to 27% at a European level.
The aforementioned objectives aim to lead the European Union to a more secure and competitive energy economy, which also promotes energy savings and the use of renewable energy which would not alter the balance of the planet’s climate.
Europe must therefore address three major challenges: combating climate change, ensuring a secure, sustainable, competitive energy supply and to transform the European economy into a model of sustainable development.
The transformation of Europe into a low carbon and energy efficient economy implies the need to decouple European economic growth from energy consumption and intervene on the economic sectors responsible for the major energy–environmental impacts.
Cities play a key role in the implementation of the improvement of energy efficiency measures, reduction of energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions which are responsible, directly and indirectly (through the products and services used by citizens), of more than 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions deriving from energy consumption of human activities.
In this context in 2008 the European Commission has launched a major initiative called the Covenant of Mayors, open to European cities of all sizes, with the aim of involving cities and citizens in the development in the energy policy of the European Union. The Covenant consists of the commitment by the signatory cities to reduce CO2 emissions in their cities, going beyond the reduction targets of 20% set by the European Union by 2020 through the adoption of energy efficient measures and actions connected to development of renewable energy sources.
Local governments, in fact, play a decisive role in mitigating the effects of climate change, especially when you consider that 80% of energy consumption and CO2 emissions are associated with urban activities.
In order to translate their political commitment into concrete measures and projects, Covenant signatories should undertake the preparation of a Baseline Emission Inventory (BEI) and to submit, within one year after the signing, a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) outlining the main actions that they intend to take in order to reduce CO2 emissions.
In order to support local authorities in the elaboration of the BEI the Research Centre CRIM-SAFRI is developing a database of CO2 emissions of 1990 in the province of Agrigento. The emission estimates, according to the guidelines for the preparation BEI, will be carried out by two approaches: the use of emission factors in line with IPCC principles and LCA emission factors.
Prof. Maurizio Cellura