The European Parliament
On their second time around, European MEP’s yesterday voted in favour of ‘backloading’. This means that the number of permits to pollute released under the Emissions Trading System (ETS) will be temporarily reduced by 900 million tonnes of carbon. This will increase the cost of carbon to industry and create an incentive to pollute less. The vote will also “build confidence in the ETS” said Rémi Gruet, the European Wind Energy Association’s (EWEA) Senior Regulatory Affairs Advisor.
The cost of carbon to polluters recently slumped to an all-time low, threatening the relevance of the world’s biggest carbon market. Prices had lost more than 70% in the past four years. Worsened by the economic crisis, the over-supply of permits reached 2 billion metric tonnes in 2012, equal to the EU’s annual limit imposed on 12,000 power plants and factories.
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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.
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Those European countries which have cut support schemes for renewable energy, have – just like Professor Butler writing on an FT blog yesterday – jumped to the wrong conclusion.
“Competitiveness is the watchword of the moment. Recession and unemployment are the crises which require attention”, the Professor writes. Yes indeed. Yet withdrawing public support for wind energy and other renewables to boost competitiveness, to tackle recession and unemployment is as illogical as eating an orange a day for your health – and stopping as soon as you get a cold.
The renewables sector employs over 1.2 million people in Europe. Wind energy alone contributed €32 billion to the EU economy in 2010 and employs well over 200,000 people in Europe. Europe is a net exporter of wind energy technology. Support for renewables is support for European jobs; a European industry and European growth.
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Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council
The issue of energy may have been overshadowed by that of tax at yesterday’s EU summit of Heads of State in Brussels, but its growing importance and impact on Europe’s economy is one that cannot be ignored.
As the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, Europeans are paying a lot for their energy – prices are 37% higher than those in the US and 20% higher than those in Japan. Why? Largely because we import an incredibly high share of expensive fossil fuels.
What’s worse is that this dependence – and hence impact on prices – is growing. Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, has said that by 2035 over 80% of our energy will be imported, posing a threat to Europe’s competitiveness and endangering its economy. continue reading »
French Environment Minister Delphine Batho
Writing in France’s prestigious centre-left daily newspaper Le Monde, Peter Altmaier, the German environment minister, and Delphine Batho, his French counterpart, underlined the need for a 2030 renewable energy target and highlighed the importance of renewables in transforming the European economy, improving energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We want to make the energy transition [moving to produce a significant amount of electricity from renewables] the new motor of the Franco-German couple,” stated the letter. It noted that the two countries recently decided to create a joint renewable energy office that will focus on promoting cooperation between companies, and on encouraging political and scientific collaboration on renewables.
France is aiming to reduce the share of nuclear in its electricity production from 75% to 50% by 2025, to increase the country’s energy efficiency by around 20%, and by 2020 to produce around 23% of electricity from renewables, according to Ms Batho. Germany, meanwhile, wants by 2022 to no longer produce any energy from nuclear power and by 2030 to produce at least 50% of its electricity from renewables. continue reading »