Tackling energy poverty is a non-negotiable part of the green transition

(EurActiv, 26 Jul 2021) Europe’s new climate legislation must focus on renovating its inefficient buildings and lifting millions of people out of energy poverty, but that is only possible if the EU works together with local governments, writes Emil Boc.

Emil Boc is Romania’s former prime minister and now the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, the country’s second-most populous city.

The city is like a great house, wrote Renaissance thinker Leon Battista Alberti: the way we build and organise our cities represents how we live together as a society. The vision of our European society is of a continent where people can build good, fulfilling lives. So it follows that we require cities that provide a good quality of life – cities that are innovative, green and inclusive, where nobody is forgotten or left behind.

As the mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Romania’s fast-growing second city, I know the joy and challenge of enacting a vision for a city’s future. The reality is, cities like ours – and countless others across Europe – cannot thrive without access to clean, affordable energy and sustainable homes for every single citizen.

Booming industries can’t keep productive workers if they can’t afford to heat their homes. Health and wellbeing can’t flourish if inadequate buildings make children sick. Social equality can’t exist if minorities and low-income families can’t access decent housing.

Buildings are home to people and shape our well-being and health on a daily basis – never more so than in the last year as the pandemic forced people at home. The benefits of renovating buildings won’t just be felt by individual families, seeing their energy bills come down and their homes become better: they’ll be felt by all of us.

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EurActiv, 26 Jul 2021: Tackling energy poverty is a non-negotiable part of the green transition