Europe’s clean energy targets ahead of Paris UN Climate Change Conference 2015

Potentials appear to be quite promising, while ambitions of European leaders fall behind, when it comes to clean energy sources.

After heads of States and Governments of the EU announced their agreement concerning the climate and energy targets for 2030, disillusionment spread among environmental actors across Europe and beyond.

A cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent, a goal for a share of renewable energy of 27 per cent and an energy efficiency target of 27 per cent as well comprise the package on which EU governments agreed ahead of the climate summit to be held in Paris in the end of this year. The question arising is if these objectives are indeed the best Europe can do to contribute to the global fight against climate change and energy problems. For many commentators, the answer is no.

Despite the great news coming from France, that the country could have 100% renewables by 2050 according to FEE (French Wind Energy Association), and Germany, where its energy transformation poses a unique positive example for the whole world, clean power ambitions in Europe remain low.

And what about a global perspective? Considering the numbers that demonstrate what the world’s biggest polluters, US and China, achieved in the last years concerning the emission targets, the European reaction to climate challenge appears to be modest. Coal consumption in the US has dropped by one fifth compared to 2007, while in China is decreasing for the first time, according to Greenpeace Energy Desk. Taking into account the European context of energy development and potentials, leaders of Europe are expected to do way more than that and raise the emissions targets more drastically.

Furthermore, more actions and less theory are needed. Time is up for European politicians being vague about their energy goals and policies. This global fight against climate change needs concrete plans. Here are three decisive steps:

Promote community-scale projects and engaging. Cities and villages can and are willing to do more. Adapt legislation in order to allow smaller players to get involved. Germany leads the game with respect to community owned clean energy plants.

Unlock new sources for funding the investment needs of energy transformation. We all know that public finance is limited. Therefore, exceeding regulatory barriers for private sector should be a target set high on the EU’s climate agenda in Paris.

Seriously consider carbon tax. If we want more clean energy share in the market, we need to discourage both the production and consume of carbon, just like South Korea did by introducing the carbon tax. Why disregard this possibly valuable tool?

Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank recently said “he wanted to see the talks result in a collective agreement binding the international community to a zero-carbon world by the end of the century”. Europe has to acknowledge this “once in a generation” chance to achieve it.

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