Regional Energy and GHG Emissions Observatories are a powerful tool for implementing efficient strategies at the local level.
Most of the structures are governed by a local consortium gathering at least several public authorities and energy data suppliers. They are very often supported by public authorities and integrated within existing regional organizations such as energy agencies or public department. The added value of this kind of structure is its high level of technical skills in data gathering and analysis, and in energy planning.
The regional observatories contribute strongly towards building a representation of the regional impact on climate change and a framework for identifying areas of responsibilities and priorities for action. Indeed, for our societies the observation of GHG emissions is a prerequisite before taking any appropriate action. The tasks of an observatory are usually very diverse. An observation system generally provides data
– most often free of charge – and improves knowledge about the region’s situation on climate change (energy and information related to GHG). In some cases, air quality, social, economic or environmental effects on climate change are included. As a result an observatory will characterise the current situation and the challenges on climate change, identify trends and influencing factors, and define various scenarios in order to meet the 20-20-20 targets and beyond;
Another task is the analysis and the monitoring of developments of the region’s situation on climate change, by identifying the challenges and by keeping an account of GHG emissions and energy consumption in order to measure the progress. To this end an observatory will determine both quantitative and qualitative objectives, identify resources, levers and opportunities for taking action. Moreover a regional observatory provides expertise and advice in policy development and in the decision-making process. Indeed it tracks progress in terms of fixed objectives, adjusts efforts and focuses on climate action. At last it evaluates the impact of climate action in terms of energy saved and GHG emissions avoided and then provides local stakeholders with a forum for sharing knowledge and experience.
In March 2009, binding legislation was adopted through a climate and energy package, to implement the 20-20-20 targets. This legislative package establishes specific policies to reach these goals and distributes them to the members’ states (which may adopt more restrictive emission regulations if they wish).To reach these targets, regions and local authorities play an important role, especially as the EU is encouraging regions to develop and implement climate change mitigation strategies, such as Covenant of Mayors initiative. Furthermore, current national data for GHG emissions is not of the sufficiency and accuracy to help European regions define and monitor local strategies; and there are already many local monitoring systems in place dealing with environmental issues (such as energy and GHG emissions, air quality, climate change, etc). For these reasons we decided to create the European Network Energee-watch, with the aim of standardising data at a European Level, enabling comparisons across European territories to be made and for European-wide methodologies to be established.