Paving the way for sustainable energy supply in Europe

Portrait Stefan Schäfers

A Fair Energy Transition for All – what is the idea behind the project? Stefan Schäfers, Director at the King Baudouin Foundation, explains why the King Baudouin Foundation and its partners decided to set it up.

Is the transition towards an environmentally sustainable energy supply in Europe an elitist issue? Certainly not. After all, climate change and its effects concern all of us and so having an emission-free energy supply should be important to all of us too. In many European countries, however, climate protection policies and measures promoting renewable energies often meet with considerable resistance. The yellow vest protest movement in France is just one example. Many people feel that their interests on this issue are not being taken into account. But it will be very hard for climate action to be successful without society in its broadest sense accepting energy transition measures. This is what the Fair Energy Transition for All project is about.

We want to discuss the issues with those who are expected to be most concerned by the negative effects of the energy transition in nine countries across Europe. That includes, among others, people with low levels of formal education and families living on basic social welfare. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of their views, their fears and the issues that matter most to them. Because one thing is clear: The energy transition requires policy measures that affect citizens’ everyday lives. And where, for example, transport or household energy prices rise, the economically and socially disadvantaged groups are the ones that are most directly affected by these changes. And they are therefore the ones that feel most left behind.

We set up this project together with our partners in order to address these concerns and to contribute to a socially fair energy transition. It is important that we take a pan-European approach on crucial issues like this. I am therefore delighted that we have joined forces with the Network of European Foundations, the Fondazione Cariplo from Italy, the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt and Stiftung Mercator from Germany and the Open Society European Policy Institute.

Together, we want to pave the way towards an environmentally sustainable energy supply for Europe without leaving anyone behind. This would be an important step towards both greater energy efficiency and the European Commission’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. I am very much looking forward to getting started and I can’t wait to learn about the insights and recommendations that will be handed over to national and European policy-makers at the end of the project. It will be up to them to transform the project’s findings into policies in order to secure a fair energy transition for all.

Stefan Schäfers