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Why a Local Energy Roadmap?

Decreasing the energy vulnerability of the territories and their inhabitants

To avoid remaining simply empty slogans, achieving these objectives demands a fundamental transformation of our societies; in fact, a new civilisation. This realisation, however, has generally eluded policy circles. The challenge in front of us is to enthusiastically take part in its invention. In so doing, we will reduce our vulnerability, at all levels of territories and households. And possibly, we will provide the foundations for the return of a healthy economy.

Tomorrow’s society will thus depend much on our collective capacity to:

  • Adopt sober modes of energy consumption, rather than those of only production (if one can consume 3 or 4 times less for the same final service, new, more affordable options for production of renewable energies will be revealed).
  • Use more decentralised, renewable sources and integrated production modes (e.g.
    combined heat and power) in places of consumption rather than resorting to systematically centralised or exogenous traditional modes,
  • Engage the entire society, not only traditional energy specialists focussing on the supply side, to co-create integrated solutions.

Imagining a territory from the energy point of view in more than one generation (2040-2050)

IMAGINE invite local authorities, local actors and citizens to: “imagine their own territory, particularly from the point of view of energy, in a generation and beyond within basic bio-physical constraints of the planetary system and design your strategy to reach that point.” A generation is long enough to consider a different paradigm and short enough to be capable to ‘relate’ to. With such an objective we can be convinced that we do not have time to lose. Concrete enough to engage the generation of our children and grandchildren, those that we know well, with whom we can identify.

The question is more cultural than technical. It also implies embracing a broad spectrum of companies and activities. This principle, of cross-sectoral cooperation, is increasingly encouraged but the methods to reach it are generally not there. At stake is the ability of our democratic institutions to harness themselves to serve this purpose.

Overcoming a sector-centric logic (i.e. reductionism)

A juxtaposition of sectoral optima never produced spontaneously a total optimum, whatever the good intentions of their promoters. This reasoning applies to all the organised actors and disciplines of society: associations (environmental and social), trade unions, administrations at all levels, etc. Virtually all now refer to some kind of ’sustainable development’ and virtually all consider energy and climate change seriously, but naturally treat such issues according to the logic of their own sector. Their strategic routes – exemplified by calls for their own sector-specific targets – can, therefore, easily diverge. Such divergence is common.

The same applies to the levels of administration and governance at the international and European level as well as the local and regional level while sometimes passing by the national level. All now are self-declared followers of ‘sustainable development,’ but they often play in their own ‘court’ giving priority to their institutional logic, at the expense of the goal of a sustainable society.

The territory as a place for integration

With IMAGINE, a ‘desirable future’ for territories and their energy systems becomes the starting point: momentarily freeing thoughts from the obstacles of the present and instead lifting thoughts to what is imaginable. Such a desirable future must also be ‘sustainable.’ Clear, science-based principles provide bio-physical constraints and are available to clarify what is necessary for a sustainable, local energy system (without overwhelming us with global statistics). Then, local authorities and all actors in the territory can decide what to do by looking ‘back’ to the present and asking “what must be done, ‘back there’ (in the present), and what pathways are possible, to arrive ‘here’ (in the desirable future)?” This is the essence of ‘backcasting’ and it provides a conceptual foundation for IMAGINE.

The approach of IMAGINE, therefore, is to focus on imagining, strategising and acting at the scale of territories with their associated governing authority.

Engaging the stakeholders

The actors influencing - directly and indirectly - the energy consumption and supply within a territory are numerous and varied. All are invited to participate in imagining each territory’s desired energy future and, in particular, to support smart, cost effective pathways towards the integrated, territorial goal of sustainable local energy systems. The following typology shows the variety of just some of the actors that can potentially be involved with IMAGINE and some examples of the valuable roles they can play.

Energy CitiesINTERREG IVCEuropean UnionConseil régional de Franche ComtéADEME
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