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The EPAH conference concludes with the message of unity and among EU municipalities to combat energy poverty and accelerate the just energy transition

Today, we have the awareness and legal framework to address energy poverty. The question is, how do we get this done? It's by bringing together the EU, national, local and regional authorities. For us (the European Commission), these are the important players that are aware of the local context and challenges and need to be involved in the process of accelerating the just energy transition.”Eero Ailio, Adviser for Energy Transition and Local Governance at the Directorate-General Energy, European Commission took the floor to set the tone of the 2nd Energy Poverty Advisory Hub (EPAH) international conference that took place in Zagreb under the theme “Moving towards energy autonomy: How to guarantee social inclusion”.

The conference unfolded on 28-29 June 2022  by bringing together almost 100 motivated participants, representing local governments of EU Member States, EU institutions, energy agencies, civil society organisations and all stakeholders active in energy poverty to debate and share experiences on the lessons learnt from the current geopolitical crisis and how the EU, national and local actors can work together in turning this challenge into an opportunity for tackling energy poverty and ensuring just and sustainable energy for all.

The two-day event was officially launched by national and local representatives of Croatia as the event was organised by the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub in collaboration with the City of Zagreb and DOOR, the local civil society organisation of experts devoted to the promotion of sustainable energy development. Dunja Magaš, State Secretary, Ministry of Construction, Physical Planning and State Property, Croatia highlighted that “energy poverty is our common European challenge” while Kristina ?eli?, Director of Directorate of Energy of the Croatian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development added that “addressing energy poverty is urgent at the current context and the city of Zagreb is committed to establishing an Energy Poverty Mitigation Programme“. Danijela Dolenec, Ph.D., Deputy Mayor of Zagreb also brought up the social dimension of the energy transition and the essential collaboration between the national level where the regulations are made and the local level where the experiences and direct contact with citizens are found.

Baiba Miltovica, President of the Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN), European Economic Social Committee continued in the same tone to mark the importance of addressing energy poverty via multiple sectors by highlighting that “It is always very important to see the social dimensions of the energy transition “. The first day was concluded with a panel debate on energy autonomy focused on challenges and policies at different levels of governance and concluded that "the local and regional level is really where it all comes together".

During the second day, participants attended interactive sessions where they had the chance to exchange about building renovations, one-stop shops, innovative financing and energy communities. The day was concluded with a visit to Križevci a pioneer city promoting energy democracy and inclusive energy transition. Participants met with the city Mayor Mario Rajn and visited the first in Croatia fully citizen crowdfunded solar panel power plant at the Development Centre and Technology Park of the city. They learned how the city co-finances installations of solar power plants on family homes and heard about the Energy and Climate Office run by the organisation KLIK, which includes a one-stop shop and the Center for Combating Energy Poverty. It was a great inspiration to conclude with the Mayor Rajn’s quote “sharing of the knowledge and examples of good practices strengthens the network of cities and municipalities across EU dedicated to the green future and gives us the necessary momentum to truly transform ourselves into the local leaders of the decarbonization.”

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