This thematic objective, Supporting the shift towards low-carbon economy in all sectors, covers the following investment priorities:

  • Production and distribution of renewable energy sources
  • Energy efficiency in SMEs
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy use in public infrastructure and housing
  • Smart distribution at low voltage levels
  • Low carbon strategies for urban areas

Key messages

The extraction, transport and combustion of fossil fuels currently underpin the majority of activities that we undertake. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels has large, beneficial and long-term implications for climate stability and thus for health and wellbeing. Moreover, the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity also creates risks to health, principally through air emissions.

In low-income communities, the use of domestic solid fuels (coal and wood) in poorly working burners creates indoor air pollution, a major health risk. Poorly sealed buildings are difficult to heat, increasing energy use as well as exposure to cold.

The ex ante conditionality for this thematic objective addresses energy efficiency in buildings as well as providing individual meters for energy users. Throughout the programming cycle, Structural Funds can consider potential effects on health and wellbeing – and especially the effects for vulnerable groups. In the shift to a low-carbon economy, for example, it will be important to ensure that low-income communities and the elderly are able to benefit from clean and affordable energy. Improved energy efficiency in buildings will play an important role in supporting this goal.

In many regions, for example, assisting low-income communities and the elderly with energy efficiency improvements may support health and inclusion goals.