In a European Commission building in Brussels yesterday morning, high-level representatives from business groups, renewable energy, the chemical industry, the gas industry, a health and environment alliance and an MEP battled it out in front of an audience of over 100. The topic was EU energy policy after 2020s.
The scene was set by Moderator Arthur Neslen, Climate and Energy Editor at Euractiv. On the panel beside him were Thomas Becker, CEO EWEA; Anne Stauffer, HEAL; Ms Beate Raabe, Secretary General of Eurogas; Peter Botschek, Director of Energy & Health, Safety & Environment, Cefic; Adrian Van den Hoven, Deputy Director General, BUSINESSEUROPE and Frauke Thies, Policy Director of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association. MEP Claude Turmes also joined the debate.
The lively two-hour debate generated some interesting quotes.
EWEA CEO Thomas Becker made the point that “We should demand that politicians take us there because the market will not do it by itself”, referring to the fact that the EU has decided to be almost carbon free by 2050.
“An international agreement is key because it levels the playing field”, he said, referring to an international climate agreement.
“The unfortunate thing about the shale gas is that it has pumped cheap coal into Europe, and we are then faced with an even bigger problem now. We need urgent measures because in my opinion, coal belongs to another century”.
“Fossil fuel and nuclear energies are heavily subsidized in Europe.”
“Do not see the renewable industry as a burden. See it as an opportunity. It will provide cheap, green power and provide Europe with a leading position in something that the rest of the world will ask for.”
Peter Botschek of Cefic, representing the chemical industry said:
“The new framework for 2020 needs to be a different one. We must bring the European supertanker back on course. At the moment we are losing 200,000 jobs per month.”
“While in theory we should leave fossil fuels in the ground…we need to make the economy work again, to re-industrialise”.
Frauke Thies, Policy Director at EPIA said:
“Climate and energy policy is economic policy”.
“Currently we are paying more than a billion euro for fuel in Europe every day. Not doing anything is going to cost us the same, if not more”.
“I would not wait till we see a global deal (on climate change) to move in the EU. If we sit and wait we will lose out”.
Adrian Van den Hoven of BUSINESSEUROPE said:
“We are in favour of climate regulation, we support the 2020 emissions cap, and we expect businesses to meet that cap”.
“Our position is for the phase-out of subsidies for renewables”.
“We are opposed to backloading. We are calling for a single mechanism to deal with price, outside of political decisions”.
“For climate change, we want an technologically neutral solution and an international agreement”.
“We are not looking for subsidies for fossil fuels, if you look at the EU, fossil fuels are taxed”.
Beate Raabe of Eurogas said:
“Market barriers shouldn’t exist for renewables and we should bring them down”.
“This competition between renewables and gas, I don’t think that’s necessary”.
Anne Stauffer of HEAL said:
“Our fossil fuel dependency comes with huge costs to our health and to the environment”.
“We will have huge savings by having a higher co2 reduction goal and more renewables. We will have huge health benefits”.
“According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution costs from industrial sources cost 169 billion euros”.
MEP Claude Turmes said:
“My answer to divergent energy policies at the EU level is binding renewable targets”.
“Eurelectric and BUSINESSEUROPE are stopping the energy transfer”.
“Energy intensive BUSINESSEUROPE member companies have only gained from climate change policies”.