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Thursday, 27 May 2010

Fierce Competition For Green Jobs

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action held a Round Table earlier this month with the heads of some of Europe’s largest companies to discuss how the EU can best maintain its lead in the transition to a climate-friendly, low-carbon global economy.  Top managers from a number of major companies, including BASF, BP, Nokia, Philips, Shell and Siemens were invited to participate in the event.

At a press conference after the Round Table, the Commissioner remarked that global competition for green growth and green jobs is getting fiercer and that Europe no longer leads in the field of renewable energy in terms of the installation of new capacity.  She cited a 2010 renewable energy attractiveness index which now ranks China and the US as the most attractive places for investment in renewables installations.

The Commissioner said business leaders showed a strong belief that Europe should make use of market forces in the transition to a climate-friendly economy.  The price of carbon, for example, should be higher than it is as without it, there is not enough of an incentive to apply and disseminate new technologies and invest in renewables and energy-efficient solutions.  Business leaders also called for a better electricity grid, to get Europe’s infrastructure right in this field.

Gerardus Ruizendaal from Philips noted that next to a good carbon price system and market mechanisms, the EU needs to set clear and demanding standards in terms of the energy-efficiency of products. With such standards he said, companies would innovate, allocate resources, reach these standards and then export on the basis of these standards.

The event was organised against a backdrop of government efforts in many countries to support green infrastructure and clean energy production and boost climate-related research and development,  according to the Commission.

Separately, the European Commission announced last week that emissions of greenhouse gases from EU businesses participating in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) fell 11.6% in 2009 compared with 2008, according to data from Member State registries.  In response, Commissioner Hedegaard said the economic crisis had made it easier for business to reduce their emissions but on the flipside “European business did not invest nearly as much as planned in innovation, which could harm our future ability to compete on promising markets.”

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