On 29 November, the Parliamentary Intergroup on Rural, Mountainous, and Remote Areas (RUMRA) and Mercedes Bresso, Chair of RURMA, hosted a breakfast debate on the need of addressing the energy needs of rural and mountainous areas. The event brought together both industry and policy makers, including Brendan Devlin of the European Commission, who discussed the prospect of the Energy Agenda for Rural and Mountainous Areas.

With Mercedes Bresso, a Member of the European Parliament and the Chair of the RUMRA Intergroup pointing towards a large policy gaps concerning the energy needs of Rural and Mountainous areas, the audience found agreement in recognising the urgent need to address both the energy needs and the air quality issues of these areas. Mr Devlin of the European Commission further underlined this urgency and affirmed that the Commission had plans to address the issue.

“I was recently in China, in Beijing, and upon my return, I visited a friend of mine in Ireland. As we both sat down, enjoying the fresh air, upon my remark about how clean it is, he surprised me by saying that this air is in fact more polluted than in some parts of China due to the presence of PM Pollution.” said Brendan Devlin of the European Commission.

“We tend to overlook rural settlements due to how little they are. But when you add them all up, they actually form a significant unit, which greatly contributes to overall pollution due to the polluting fuels that rural dwellers use.” he added further.

The highlight of the Breakfast debate was the official unveiling of the FREE report titled ‘Rural Energy Matters’ (available here) by Fulco Van Lede, CEO of SHV Energy. The report brings significant insights into the problems associated with the energy needs of rural areas, including the issues of air quality and fuel poverty. Furthermore, it presents solutions which when adopted will result in 100 million tonnes of CO2 savings and a significant improvement in air quality in Rural and Mountainous Areas.

“I was delighted to see so many interested people attending our event, all of whom had a genuine interest in improving our rural energy profile in Europe. The announcement that 100mT of CO2 could be saved by adopting simple cost-effective measures will be promoted by FREE throughout the upcoming Clean Energy for All legislative process” said Andrew Ford, founder of the FREE initiative, after the event.