The European Commission’s plan for energy security includes a boost of renewables and an energy savings plan which is a good step but insufficient to deliver energy security for all and the Paris climate agreement
‘REPowerEU’ still relies on new fossil fuel imports from third countries, risking exploitation and increasing exposure to dangerous, unreliable fossil fuels in and out of Europe, creating stranded assets and worsening the climate crisis
Brussels, 18 May 2022 – The European Commission’s plan to wean off the EU’s reliance on Russian fossil gas and keep energy prices under control fails to put people at the heart of it. ‘REPowerEU’ proposes some bold measures on renewable energy and new targets for energy efficiency but falls nonetheless short of determined steps to stop the expansion of dangerous, unreliable fossil fuel infrastructure, immediate actions for long-term structural savings in energy consumption, and provides loopholes on funds for fossil fuels and unsustainable imports from third countries.
“The self-imposed imperative of moving away quickly from Russian fossil gas is leading to a rush into other gas imports from regions across the world, while also deploying plans for new LNG infrastructure at a speed never seen before. If this energy, speed and money was to be deployed for renewable energy and energy savings, we would be witnessing the genuine energy transition that is urgently needed,” said Esther Bollendorff, CAN Europe’s Gas Policy Expert.
The Commission’s proposal to frontline funds for the new energy plan includes auction allowances from the Market Stability Reserve (MSR) of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS,) which can be used to finance gas and oil infrastructure. At the same time, the proposed amendment in the Resilience and Recovery Funds (RRF) to provide a financial flow for Member States to use with ‘REPowerEU’ objectives opens the door to fossil fuels and harmful climate projects by waiving the ‘Do No Significant Harm’ screening that was in place for all other (already approved) measures.
“Taxing carbon via the Emissions Trading System to reduce emissions and then recycling back the revenues into carbon and methane emitting gas… sounds like a bad joke. This will deepen, rather than reduce, the EU’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, contradicting the European Green Deal objectives. This is unacceptable at a moment when there is a huge investment gap for achieving the Commission’s target of 55% emission reduction by 2030, including in renewables, energy efficiency and heat pumps to deliver the Paris Agreement in a just manner,” said CAN Europe’s EU Climate Policy Expert Klaus Röhrig.
“Transferring of resources from other funds to recovery funds to speed-up energy transition investments is welcome in principle, but there are unfortunately big risks that part of those funds will be channeled to fossil fuels, which is completely counterproductive. Furthermore, the strategy fails to provide a concrete deadline for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies in order to repurpose these precious resources for financing an acceleration of the energy transition,” said CAN Europe’s Finance and Subsidies Policy Expert Olivier Vardakoulias.
In its plans, the Commission fails to give an analysis of what the global LNG production expansion to feed EU gas needs would mean in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and reaching the 1.5°C goal by 2030. Just energy transition partnerships should support partner countries to get out of carbon intensive industries and not make them stuck with fossil gas exploration.
Although electrification of industries and targeted use of renewable hydrogen for ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors is very important, and a good means of taking industries towards fuel switches, ‘REPowerEU’ plan lacks promoting sufficiency measures as the first step to decrease demand for precious energy in industries. Moreover, the EU should have learnt the lesson by now that it should not completely depend on energy resources from third countries that are possibly geopolitically unstable and potentially linked with social and environmental damage. The efficiency and sustainability of producing large quantities of renewable hydrogen in Africa for Europe -compared to using the electricity directly in Africa, is overlooked in the ‘REPowerEU’.
“The EU’s plans could lock-in developing and EU neighbouring countries to fossil fuels, sending a torn message leading to the COP27 in Egypt. The EU should not achieve its emission reduction targets and energy security at the expense of outsourcing its energy transition to vulnerable countries, which face the biggest impacts of climate change and might not yet achieved a switch to energy efficiency and renewable energy for their own domestic needs,” said Sven Harmeling, CAN Europe’s International Climate Policy expert.
CAN Europe welcomes the Commission’s proposal to increase the 2030 EU targets on renewable energy and energy savings. However, the share to get us on the safe side with regards to the Paris Agreement should be 50% and 20% respectively, with measures going beyond short-term behavioural changes, enabling a full energy system change and reducing the energy demand in the mid and long term. Moreover, the acceleration in the deployment of solar and wind energy should not come at the cost of biodiversity protection nor of effective engagement of citizens and local communities.
“While the EU Commission argues that the ‘REPowerEU’ objectives require an additional investment of €210 billion between now and 2027, including funding streams for new gas imports, CAN Europe’s assessment ‘RepowerForThePeople’ proves that the EU can wean off Russian gas by 2025 without funding new gas imports elsewhere. All of that additional investment should support the just energy transition to achieve it”, said CAN Europe’s Energy Policy Expert Elif Gündüzyeli.
“The Commission should be grasping the severity of the historic situation with many compounding crises, some of them like the climate crisis unfortunately known for years. We are puzzled to see in 2022 that fossil fuels are still included in the middle of an energy security emergency. If ambitious enough, both the EU’s climate and energy plans ‘Fit for 55’ and ‘REPowerEU’ together can help us wean off Russian fossil fuels and address the climate emergency through a transition that it’s just for the people. Why wouldn’t we use this historic moment to change towards a system that we know is safe?,” said Chiara Martinelli, CAN Europe’s Director.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
Green10 letter on the ‘REPowerEU’ package and environmental roll-back
CAN Europe’s Briefing ‘Repowering for the people. Flagship actions the Commission’s plan ‘REPowerEU’ should feature in the current fossil fuel and energy prices crisis and press release’.
CAN Europe’s Paris Agreement Compatible Scenario
CAN Europe’s 8 recommendations for an accelerated, secure and Paris compatible energy transition in the EU in the context of the invasion of Ukraine
Nina Tramullas, Communications, CAN Europe: email@example.com
CAN Europe stands in solidarity with the people affected by the Russian aggression in Ukraine that is causing a humanitarian crisis. We wish for de-escalation and urge all parties for the protection of civilians from the attacks. People all over the world, Ukraine and Russia are already weakened by the impacts of climate change and COVID. We don’t want another armed conflict to bring more instability and loss of life. Read our statement.