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European Sustainable Energy Week
News article28 February 2023European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency

Climate leadership – what does it really mean?

By Seamus Hoyne, Dean of Flexible and Work Based Learning at Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) (IE), Chair of Tipperary Energy Agency, and Secretary General of FEDARENE.  

Seamus Hoyne image

As we face the unprecedented challenges of the climate, biodiversity and energy security crisis, the need for leadership in society is in the spotlight. While the policy and regulatory environment (REPowerEU, Fitfor55, Green Deal etc.) is highly ambitious the challenge is delivery. Climate leadership is an absolute imperative as decisions that we will make now affect our ability to meet our climate goals in 2030 and 2050. 

The concept of climate leadership is one which I have a personal interest in as it forms a central part of my current research. Within organisations and society there are many leadership forms and models. Some that are relevant to the climate agenda include Transformative Leadership (leaders inspire and support people, organisations and society to deliver on innovation and change) or Distributive Leadership (leaders ensure responsibility and authority for change is spread throughout and people are enabled to implement change). There are many more models but these two seem, to me, to align with the specific leadership approaches needed in the context of climate. We need transformation across society (and to support people in that transformation) but individual organisations and people need to take responsibility to implement change. 

Within the REMARKABLE Climate Leaders Project, climate leaders within local authorities/municipalities across Europe have been profiled to gain insights into their approaches and considerations on leadership. What has emerged from our current leaders is their personal and professional commitment to the climate agenda and a clear ambition to deliver on ambitious climate action programmes. As climate leaders, they ensure that climate action is integrated into all decision making but that leadership is a responsibility of everyone. The project is working with emerging leaders through a Climate Leadership Programme to deepen leadership capacity through municipalities. These leaders are working to develop Climate Neutrality Roadmaps, thus charting a path for the future. 

Local and regional energy agencies are also developing new Climate Neutrality services in response to the needs of their regions. Thanks to their role of delivery agents of sustainable policies, they have become key stakeholders to advance the energy and climate transition in Europe. The ManagEnergy Initiative has precisely been focusing on that, and is now back for four more years to raise the skills and know-how of local and regional energy agencies.  

Climate leadership will require challenging decisions to be made but leaders can also grasp the amazing opportunities that the clean energy transition will bring. New economic opportunities and jobs, cleaner environments (air, water and land) plus local, green and secure energy supply are just some of the many benefits for society if we deliver on our ambitions.   

If we are to deliver on our ambitions, we all need to take a leadership role. For 2023 – what leadership role will you take at home, at work or in society? 


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About the author:

Seamus is a Mechanical Engineer with Masters in Renewable Energy and Energy Management from the University of Limerick and University of Ulster. He has been involved in R&D in the energy sector since 1993. From 1998 to 2012 he was the Managing Director of the Tipperary Energy Agency (TEA) and grew the organisation from initial concept to where it is one of the leading Energy Agencies in Ireland and Europe. He has been involved in over 25 EU funded R&D Projects including acting as coordinator EU CONCERTO Project SERVE (2007 to 2012) which oversaw an investment of €10.4m in sustainable energy in North Tipperary and also as coordinator of the ManagEnergy Service for the EU Commission providing support to Energy Agencies across the EU on stimulating sustainable energy investments. He is the Secretary General of FEDARENE. 

FEDARENE (European Federation of Agencies and Regions for Energy and the Environment) is the collective voice on the energy transition for regions and local/regional energy agencies. FEDARENE’s members drive the energy transition and climate action in their territories through ambitious policy development and strategic facilitation actions. 


Disclaimer: This article is a contribution from a partner. All rights reserved.
Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of the information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and should not be considered as representative of the European Commission’s official position.




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