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Empowering Collective Energy Citizenship for a Sustainable and Democratic European Energy Transition

By Karin Thalberg, Edina Vadovics, Luisa Losada Puente and Alicia Barbas

The European energy transition is speeding up. During the 2019-2024 European mandate, extensive regulatory progress has been made in the form of the European Green Deal and through the energy and climate legislative package ‘Fit for 55’. As we enter the implementation phase of these policies, understanding and supporting citizen involvement in the energy transition is becoming more and more important. To this end, EnergyPROSPECTS has explored the potential of energy citizenship to contribute to the fulfilment of the EU’s climate and energy objectives.

Energy citizenship provides a useful lens to capture the diversity of citizen engagement in the energy transition. The concept denotes different forms of civic involvement and engagement in the fields of energy production, distribution, and consumption, as well as in the governance of the energy transition. It can be practised at different levels of action, through different constellations of actors.

Within the project we have mapped 596 initiatives that support or enable citizens to practise energy citizenship in different ways, we call these energy citizenship initiatives. 40 of these initiatives have been studied in-depth. These initiatives include everything from retrofitting of buildings, energy sufficiency and efficiency practices in the home or within organisations, to citizen consultations and deliberative processes, renewable energy production, green energy suppliers, clean mobility initiatives and sustainable housing projects. In this policy brief, we particularly focus on collective forms of action.

The objectives of this policy brief are three-fold. First, we introduce the term sustainability-driven energy citizenship and highlight the potential of energy citizenship to contribute to a more just, equitable, democratic, and sustainable energy transition. This is illustrated by good practice cases across the continent. Second, we provide insights on how citizens can be empowered to take part in collective initiatives in the energy transition. Third, it outlines policy recommendations on how policymakers can enable empowered and sustainable forms of energy citizenship.