Over 1000 European cities have written a joint letter to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy to call for a 30% renewable energy target for 2030, alongside a 40% energy efficiency target.
On 22 January, the European Commission proposed a 40% greenhouse gas reduction target and a 27% renewable energy target that is non-binding at the national level. But the European Parliament voted in favour of stronger targets (a 30% renewable energy target subdivided between Member States and a 40% energy efficiency target). Energy Cities, the alliance representing the 1,000 cities, is hoping the EU Heads of State, who meet on the topic on 20-21 March, will follow the MEPs’ more ambitious lead.
Energy Cities president Eckart Würzner identified problems with the Commission’s weak proposals as well as problems with the clash between EU institutions’ visions. He was quoted in a EurActiv article saying, “I personally sense a great deal of disillusionment among my citizens towards European politics. An ambitious EU climate and energy policy that tackled economic growth, fuel poverty and quality of life issues would ultimately contribute to restoring trust in European institutions.”
Energy Cities represents urban Europe because they believe “the fight against climate change will be won or lost in urban areas.” An Economist analysis predicts that 33% of cities will be affected by climate change by 2025, largely due to the fact that cities are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.
CEOs of six leading European energy companies voiced their support for a strong 2030 climate and energy framework at a EuropeBusiness press conference on Wednesday 12 February. As stated in a EuropeBusiness press release, the CEOs requested EU Heads of State to follow in the footsteps of the European Parliament and vote in favor of ambitious, nationally binding renewable energy targets.
There was a clear consensus between the CEOs that renewable energy and policies that encourage renewable energy are in Europe’s best interest; a binding 30 percent 2030 target could create 570,000 more jobs and save €260 billion in fossil fuel imports compared with only a greenhouse gas target, they said. As they answered questions from journalists, the CEOs also identified a number of other benefits of strong 2030 targets.
There are significant economic benefits: Alstom Senior Vice-President Denis Cochet said Europe can save €1.5 billion a year in power generation costs by establishing a more interconnected grid. Vestas CEO Anders Runevad said, “Existing policy commitments have helped us to reduce the cost of energy up to now. Further reducing the cost of energy requires the investment certainty that an ambitious, long-term EU policy commitment provides. Let’s not stop before crossing the finish line.”
There is the benefit of improving energy security-sufficiency: RES Med CEO Jean-Marc Armitano explained that the targets are crucial for limiting Europe’s dependency on foreign fossil fuels.
And there is the benefit of reassuring investors: Rafael Mateo, CEO of Acciona Energia said “We need stable, long-term frameworks and legal certainty for investors because energy is a long-term business.” He pointed out that long-term frameworks are needed in order to match the long-term investments that are expected to be made in the industry.
Enercon Managing Director Hans-Dieter Kettwig criticised the utility companies that aren’t using renewables, saying that they need to be “more proactive” and “accept a new industry is coming.” The EU is responsible for encouraging the emergence of this new industry with its far-sighted policies until now; ERG Renew CEO Massimo Derchi called out EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for committing to EU-wide energy policy but then essentially renationalizing it by not including binding national targets.
Energy prices have only minimal impact on Europe’s economic competitiveness, new research reveals.
While some commentators have used the need to stay competitive as an argument against a strong 2030 climate and energy framework, this research shows that Europe’s competitiveness depends more on innovation than on low energy costs.
The study was conducted by Grantham Research Institute, DIW Berlin and IDDRI.
“For the vast majority of companies, energy prices have little impact on their choice of location or on their competitiveness,” says an Ends Europe article. A Reuters article also supported this revelation.
In addition, European Commission research has proven that the historically higher energy prices in Europe have led to European companies becoming far more energy efficient than their foreign competitors.
 European Commission, DG EcFIn, January 2014.
- Renewable energy CEOs discuss with journalists
– Wednesday 12 February 2014, 10:30-12:00 plus lunch, Brussels
– Press member? Register now by contacting Sarah Azau: [email protected]
Two weeks after the Commission disappointed the renewable energy industry and environmentalists with its weak proposal on a 2030 climate and energy framework, the European Parliament reinforced its commitment to Europe’s energy future. A majority 341 MEPs voted in favour of three binding 2030 targets for renewables (30%), greenhouse gas emission reductions (40%) and energy efficiency (40%).
The pivotal plenary vote was likely fueled by the projected benefits of strong binding 2030 targets: 570,000 new jobs, €500 billion that can be saved from fossil fuel imports and lower energy costs for energy intensive industries.
Still, many people fear the targets will cause Europe’s electricity prices to continue rising and put European businesses at a disadvantage compared to businesses in other countries.
Are they right? Should Europeans continue to support renewable energy? Is there a trade-off between clean energy and competitiveness, or is this a false debate? Who benefits from weaker climate and energy goals – and will they bring down our energy bills?
These concerns will be examined in a 12 February press conference in Brussels, at which CEOs from leading European companies will explain the importance of a strong 2030 climate and energy framework.
The press conference, titled EuropeBusiness Day, will be held from 10:30 to 12:00 in the Hotel Silken Berlaymont in Brussels.
More details can be found here: http://europebusinessday.eu/
Last week, the European Commission released its communication on a 2030 climate and energy framework including targets, initiating a dramatic spike in both positive and negative media coverage of the question. The Commission’s proposed targets have created some controversy because, while they would require the EU to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent from the 1990 levels by 2030, the suggested 27% renewable energy target is considered unambitious by the renewable energy industry and green campaigners.
In the ensuing media reaction, numerous articles referred to EWEA, some even specifically quoting CEO Thomas Becker. In a Financial Times article, Becker was quoted: “The previously far-sighted and ambitious European Commission is a shadow of its former self, hiding behind the UK and other backward-looking member states and lobbies.” Becker’s quote was used to support the overall message of the article, which you can grasp through the article’s lead, “Brussels has taken a step back from the ambitious environmental agenda that made the EU a global green leader…”
The Guardian also published an article that referenced EWEA among other renewable energy associations and companies that were disappointed with the targets. An International New York Times article shared the EWEA opinion that policy makers are “easing up in their drive for more aggressive climate regulation.”
French newspaper Le Monde published an article that expressed satisfaction with the targets but also recognized that they could have been stronger, as environmental organizations and the European Greens would have preferred. It pointed out the belief that a truly ambitious goal for 2030 would have been a 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Germany’s commitment to renewable energy was on display in a Deutsche Presse-Agentur article, in which German Chancellor Andrea Merkel identified “transforming the energy sector by dismantling nuclear power and boosting alternative energy sources” as a primary objective for her government coalition.