Guidebook: "How to Develop a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP)"

Policies and Targets
Urban Areas
Transport and Mobility
Energy Generation and Distribution

The European Union is leading the global fight against climate change, and has made it its top priority. The EU committed itself to reducing its overall emissions to at least 20 % below 1990 levels by 2020. Local authorities play a key role in the achievement of the EU’s energy and climate objectives. The Covenant of Mayors is a European initiative by which towns, cities and regions voluntarily commit to reducing their CO2 emissions beyond this 20 % target. This formal commitment is to be achieved through the implementation of Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs). The purpose of the present guidebook is to help the Covenant of Mayors signatories to reach the commitments they have taken by signing the Covenant, and in particular to prepare within the year following their official adhesion:

  • a Baseline Emission Inventory (BEI);
  • a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP).

BEI is a prerequisite to SEAP elaboration, as it will provide knowledge of the nature of the entities emitting CO2 on the municipality’s territory, and will thus help select the appropriate actions. Inventories conducted in later years will allow determining if the actions provide sufficient CO2 reductions and if further actions are necessary.

The current guidebook provides detailed step-by-step recommendations for the entire process of elaborating a local energy and climate strategy, from initial political commitment to implementation. It is divided into 3 parts:

  • Part I relates to the description of the overall SEAP process and covers the strategic issues;
  • Part II gives guidance on how to elaborate the Baseline Emission Inventory;
  • Part III is dedicated to the description of technical measures that can be implemented at local level by the local authority in the different sectors of activity.

The guidebook provides a flexible but coherent set of principles and recommendations. The flexibility will allow local authorities to develop a SEAP in a way that suits their own circumstances, permitting those already engaged in energy and climate action to come on board of the Covenant of Mayors, while continuing to follow the approaches they have used before with as little adjustments as possible.

The number of topics covered by this guidebook is quite large. This is why we had to approach some of them in a rather general manner, providing links to further readings and information.

The Joint Research Centre 1 of the European Commission has been assigned the task of scientific and technical support to the Covenant. This guidebook has been elaborated by the JRC, in collaboration with the Directorate General for Energy 2 of the European Commission, the Covenant of Mayors’ Office, and with the support and input of many experts from municipalities, regional authorities, other agencies or private companies.

This document is intended to help beginner towns/cities/regions to initiate the process and guide them through it. It should also provide experienced local authorities with answers to specific questions they are faced with in the context of the Covenant of Mayors, and if possible, with some fresh and new ideas on how to proceed.


Further information and support:

If you do not find the desired information in the present guide book, you can refer to the ‘Frequently Asked Question’ section, available on the Covenant website:

In addition, a helpdesk has been set up to provide Covenant signatories with information and guidance on the preparation/implementation of both their BEI and their SEAP.

Inquiries can be sent by email:
or by phone: +39 0332 78 9703.

  • 1. (Directorate for Energy Transport and Climate - previously Institute for Energy and Transport, IET and Institute for Environment and Sustainability, IES)
  • 2. former Energy and Transport Directorate-General DG TREN
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