On June 26-27, European Political leaders are meeting in Belgium to agree on a concrete Action Plan to tackle Energy Security, an issue of increased concern since the crisis in Ukraine emerged last March.
EU Leaders will convene this week to discuss and endorse a proposal put forward by the European Commission in May, an “European Energy Security Strategy”. The proposed Strategy identifies 5 key areas of work, including the construction and reinforcement of key gas and electricity transmission infrastructure, a stress test for possible gas supply shortage next winter, a push of energy savings policies and programs, the implementation of the renewable energy 2020 goal and the completion of the internal energy market, such as the finalization of network codes to foster regional market coupling.
While the Commission’s Strategy recognises the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy for reducing energy imports, the plan does not put forward concrete policy actions to capture their potential. The concrete options being discussed are short-term measures to diversify the fossil fuel supply. These options however will not help to solve Europe’s biggest challenge: preventing dangerous climate change. And it will not help Europe either to reduce costs linked to health and pollution, it will not deliver solutions to boost employment and will not allow Europe to reduce its energy import dependency, which is the main energy security challenge.
It is the mid to long-term horizon that EU leaders should be looking at in order to increase Europe’s energy independence and contribute to the global efforts in the fight against climate change. A strategy largely based on energy efficiency and renewable energy would contribute to reducing fossil fuels imports and would deliver substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions in the energy sector.
According to the European Commission’s own 2030 impact assessment, a 35% EU renewable energy target in 2030 combined with ambitious energy efficiency policies would help cut net energy imports by more than half in 2050. And it would deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions above 45%, as compared to 1990. In addition, research by the Fraunhofer Institute for the German government indicates that over 40% savings in final energy by 2030 is technical and economically feasible, equivalent to the EU’s total current gas imports from Russia.
In October, European leaders will meet again to agree on the proposed post-2020 Climate and Energy policy framework. The options considered are so far quite alarming, given the fact that Energy ministers at the last Energy Council on June 12th recognized the importance of addressing climate change and energy security jointly.
In an effort to remind European governments the double benefit of addressing energy security through a comprehensive long term climate policy based on energy efficiency and renewable energy, NGOs across Europe have been addressing their heads of state and governments these last two weeks.
A copy of these letters can be found at the bottom. The main demands for the European Council are to support the following concrete measures:
- agree on a greenhouse gas emission reduction target well beyond the proposed 40 per cent target;
- exclude the use of international offset credits in the delivery of this target. Today, 75 per cent of the EU’s external credits are realised in Russia, the Ukraine and China, crowding out domestic investments in clean technology;
- establish emergency EU financing mechanisms for large-scale building renovation programmes and accelerated deployment of renewable heating technologies;
- give priority to interconnections that help the completion of the internal EU energy market over infrastructure that simply increases reliance on (other) external sources;
- transform the non-binding 2020 energy savings target into a binding target, and request a wider scope (beyond public buildings) of the annual building renovation rates in the Energy Efficiency Directive;
- include a binding 40 per cent energy savings target in the 2030 climate and energy framework, and increase the ambition of the proposed 2030 renewable energy target.
By setting three ambitious and binding targets for 2030 of at least 55% GHG emission reduction, at least 45% renewable energy share and at least 40% energy savings Europe will grasps the opportunity to put in place the long-term strategic vision that will tackle Europe’s energy security while securing Europe’s commitments to tackle climate change.
Below you can find a copy of all the letters written to EU political leaders by joint NGO groups in several countries accross Europe: