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New rules, new bans: Brussels finalises climate plan

08:05 04/05/2023

The Brussels region has approved a final version of its Air, Climate and Energy Plan, which includes a ban on both petrol and diesel fueled vehicles by 2030 and mandatory sustainability standards for homeowners.

The plan’s ambitious target is a carbon-neutral capital by 2050, Bruzz reports, along with a 47% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

“With this plan, the government is putting climate at the heart of its urban project,” said minister of climate transition, environment and energy Alain Maron (Ecolo).

“This ambition – in line with Belgium's commitments – is also based on the contributions of all Brussels organisations, each committed at their level: municipalities, professional sectors, citizens' groups, businesses, associations, and so on.

"The government sets the course and supports all those who are committed to caring for Brussels and its inhabitants and living better by 2030."

To get there, property owners will have to have their buildings at a minimum energy performance class C (100 kWh per square metre per year) by 2050. Public authorities must achieve that class as early as 2040.

From the end of 2025, all Brussels building owners will be required to draw up a renovation plan for hitting the target.

In order to help homeowners get there, the region is offering guidance along with financial support in the form of grants and interest-free loans.

One example of a premium is the 'Renolution' one for low-income individuals, which covers half of the energy investments needed to meet the regional target and allows them to take out a low-interest loan.

This third version of the climate action plan comes after a period of public scrutiny which resulted in more than 3,000 suggestions from citizens and dozens of recommendations from federations, associations and advisory bodies.

Adjustments to the preceding text were made, including a 20% increase in renewable energy production targets compared to the December 2022 version of the plan, along with a change to the timetable for phasing out fossil fuels.

The projected results of the measures have also been modified, confirming that the implementation of the plan will lead to 47% less greenhouse gases by 2030.

Besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the plan also aims to prepare the Brussels region for the effects of climate change with better soil permeability, integrated stormwater management, more vegetation and more cooling zones to combat heat islands.

“As has been the case since the beginning of the legislature, each minister and area of competence is contributing to the high climate ambition set by the government and will continue to do so,” Maron said.

The timeline for the climate action plan is as follows:

2023: Tax relief to support home energy renovation
2023: Ending fossil fuel subsidies and more support for alternatives
2023: Adoption of an ambitious energy target (150 kWh/m²/year) for major renovations
2023: Obligation to sort food and garden waste
2024: Introduction of support for group renovation and development of a group renovation dynamic of buildings per district as part of urban renewal
2024: Greening of 20 playgrounds in areas lacking green spaces
2025: Stopping fossil fuel heating for new buildings (2025) or substantially renovated buildings (urban planning permits requested from 1 January 2030)
2025: 25,000 secure bicycle parking spaces
2026: Commissioning of the biomethanisation unit
2030: Reorientation of all the Brussels region's economic instruments so that they benefit socially and ecologically exemplary enterprises as a priority
2030: Abolition of diesel vehicles
2030: Reducing the flow of waste to incinerators by 30%
2030: Alignment of all regional support to local governments with regional air, climate and energy targets
2031: All buildings in Brussels have an EPB certificate
2033: End of class F and G energy sieves
2035: Ban on new oil-fired heating installations
2035: Complete abolition of the use of heating oil in all sectors
2035: Abolition of internal combustion engine vehicles (petrol and diesel)
2035: Provision of a network of 11,000 public charging stations for electric vehicles
2040: Achievement of the target of 100 kWh/m²/year by OVMs and energy neutrality for non-residential public buildings
2045: Class D and E buildings must have undergone energy renovation

Written by Helen Lyons