Europeans take climate change seriously, as today’s Eurobarometer survey results show. Nearly nine in ten of us think it is a serious problem.
One of the major causes of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. The EU has pledged to reduce its emissions by 80-95% by 2050. To get there, we will need a zero carbon power sector by 2050 – that means emissions-free electricity.
To get emissions-free electricity in 2050 we need to take the right decisions today. There are at least ten ways of producing renewable energy, all of them emissions-free. Of the non-renewables, nuclear is far too expensive (on a market with real competition, it would never get built). It also takes too long to build and have an impact given we need to start reducing emissions straight away, as does carbon capture and storage (CCS).
To fight climate change – a need clearly recognised by most Europeans – we must increase the 2020 emissions reduction target to the suggested 30%, to put us on the right track for 2050and set further targets for post 2020. But we must also ensure renewables continue to grow and replace polluting power sources. The EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) alone will not do this – the ETS helps reduce emissions, not boost renewable energy investments.
Investments in renewable energy are currently driven up to 2020 by the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive and the EU’s binding targets for renewable energy and CO2 reductions. To maintain investor confidence in renewables we must have renewable energy legislation for post-2020, including binding renewable energy and climate targets for 2030. All this should be accompanied by a plan for the future development of the power grid. The 2050 Energy Roadmap, expected later this year, should pave the way for these pieces of legislation.