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    Brussels Government approves Energy Pact

    (c) Belga
    (c) Belga

    The Government of Brussels Region, like its counterpart in Wallonia which met at the same time, approved a new Energy Pact on Thursday, Brussels’ Environment Minister Céline Fremault (cdH – Humanist Democratic Centre) announced. The pact, which Belgium’s four energy ministers agreed upon on Monday evening, outlines the country’s energy and climate policy until 2050, including closing down nuclear plants by 2025, in keeping with the law.

    The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) has expressed its reluctance to accept the accord as it stands, especially on the nuclear issue, in the Flemish and federal governments. The Flemish nationalists feel, among other things, that the pact’s sustainability and financial feasibility are compromised and that, as the pact stands, it does not guarantee security of supply.

    On Thursday morning, the governments of Wallonia and Brussels came out in favour of the accord, which confirms the elimination of nuclear power generation by 2025, with the prior installation of an energy mix based of gas and renewable energy along with a gradual reduction of global consumption of fossil fuel.

    Other aspects of the pact include increasing energy efficiency and reducing consumption based on a series of measures such as: strengthening energy standards applicable to all types of consumer goods; speeding up the renovation of residential, tertiary and public buildings; and banning sales of oil furnaces from 2035. The aim is to raise the energy performance of residential buildings to the level of 100 kWh/m2 by 2050. Public buildings and offices, for their part, will be required to become energy neutral by 2040 and 2050 respectively.  

    Renewable energy should cover 40% of total consumption by 2030 and 100% by 2050. This is to be achieved by using a mix of gas and renewable energy whose capacity – solar panels and wind energy – will increase in stages. A support mechanism is to be set up by the Federal Government to enable the creation and maintenance of a total gas-production capacity of 5 GW in Belgium. Storage will also be developed.

    A carbon price will be set for the non-industrial and transport sectors. The resulting resources will finance the energy transition, including that of the most vulnerable persons. Transport will be coal-free, with the general objective being the gradual elimination of internal combustion engines.  

    By 2025, 20% of new licences will be for zero emissions, and 50% by 2030. The authorities and transport companies will set the example since they will be obliged to purchase only zero-emission vehicles by 2025. Innovation and research will be supported with a view to the transition to a low-carbon society.

    Jason Bennett
    The Brussels Times