22 October 2021. This 2021 is the “make or break year for action on energy transition”, according to the United Nations. In this very year, COP26 is also expected to bring significant implications for the energy sector towards a sustainable energy future. And in this very moment where the COVID19 pandemic has recalled us all how interlinked nature, energy, climate, health and economy are in our society, energy will allow us to recover, building back better together. 2021 is also the year when the 42 members of the Union for the Mediterranean have approved a Ministerial Declaration on Energy that raises the ambition of the region to contribute to a just and fair energy transition, supporting the inclusive recovery and tapping all the existing opportunities.
Current trends will likely lead to a 37% increase in the region’s overall energy demand by 2050 (MEP2050, OME, 2021). To face today’s urgent energy challenges in the Mediterranean, clean energy plays a strategic and fundamental role as a solutions’ enabler for climate change, environmental degradation, health services and post pandemic recovery including job creation and building behavioural change in our societies. With an increasing population of over 500 million inhabitants with growing energy demands, the Mediterranean has a pivotal role to play in the global transition.
The crucial role of the Mediterranean can only deploy its full potential by enhancing regional dialogue, cooperation and integration. On World Energy Day the Union for the Mediterranean is committed to enhancing cooperation and dialogue in the region. In line with the global agenda (UN SDGs, Paris Agreement, EU Green Deal) the UfM supports a sustainable energy transition in the Mediterranean region by contributing to the development of renewable energy, energy efficiency as well as climate action.
A good example is the exercise to improve energy efficiency in street lighting. Local authorities are in the best position to implement actions on the ground that best meet their needs. Street lighting in many places represent up to 40% of the electricity bills at a municipal level, with electricity use for lighting expected to grow about 50% in the next two decades. However, energy-efficient lighting solutions, such as LED, can help reduce demand by 40 to 60 %. In this frame, the UfM, in partnership with the Copenhagen Center on Energy Efficiency, is currently conducting an exercise to analyse the potential to improve the efficiency of the street lighting systems in several municipalities from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Palestine.
Working with United for Efficiency, the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency has developed a toolbox that allows the user to obtain a comparison of the savings that the different available solutions could bring to their specific case. The outputs of the toolbox point to the specific energy and financial savings and avoided GHG emissions that could be achieved, together with an overview of the required investment and payback period.
This exercise falls under the mandate of the 2021 UfM Ministerial Declaration on Energy “to implement ambitious roadmaps and targets on energy efficiency in all sectors” as well as to involve “local stakeholders […] in the development, implementation […] of actions to address energy and climate challenges”. To follow and ensure the implementation of the Ministerial mandate, the UfM animates the unique dialogue platforms dedicated to energy in the Mediterranean region: the UfM Energy Platforms. Their objective is to promote and develop renewable energies and energy efficiency, including the gas market, reliable supply transportation, the progressive deployment of renewable energies and energy efficiency measures as well as the progressive integration of the electricity market.