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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Non EU-ETS Sectors Must Do Better On Climate and Energy Policy

Source: Wikipedia

This year, the European Commission adopted the Green Paper ‘A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies’ and subsequently conducted a public consultation.  It is currently preparing for more concrete proposals on the 2030 framework by the end of year.

A recent event at the European Parliament engaged an expert panel to debate how the 2030 climate and energy framework could be mutually reinforcing i.e. by addressing energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate protection alongside each other.

‘2030 Climate and Energy Framework: The Need for Mutually Reinforcing Policies’ was organised by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe) and the Coalition for Energy Savings.  Panellists from a range of organisations discussed how to successfully transition to a sustainable energy system.

Many participants raised the fact that sectors outside the EU Emission Trading System (EU-ETS) can and should contribute more concretely to climate and energy policy, especially renewable energy, transport, infrastructure and energy efficiency. 

Robert Tromop from the International Energy Agency (IEA) said his organisation regards energy efficiency as one of the biggest contributors to climate change –  yet it is one of the biggest solutions too.  The market for energy efficiency is so diffuse that the IEA has called it a ‘hidden fuel’, a key factor restraining energy growth.

CAN Europe’s Wendel Trio added that a carbon price alone will not help us reach our targets, whilst the Coalition for Energy Savings’ Stefan Scheuer argued that without a binding 40% energy savings target, there is no opportunity to tap the cost-effective economic potential from climate and energy policy.  The EU-ETS does not address non-economic barriers to an efficient climate and energy policy, said Stefan.

A panel debate led by Nick Mabey from think tank E3G addressed the lack of political ambition to lead on climate change and the practical difficulties of implementing policy.  Peter Witoeck from the Belgian Environment Ministry blamed politicians’ short-term thinking for a lack of aspirational rhetoric on climate and energy policy.

Silke Karcher from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment said that the EU model underestimates energy efficiency’s potential and overestimates its cost.  Nevertheless, she added, energy efficiency is difficult to implement, despite the wealth of evidence in its favour.  Other panellists agreed with Silke that coherence between policy tools is desperately needed and that energy efficiency and renewable energy need to be linked to the carbon markets.

The event covered a broad range of climate and energy policy topics and Nick Mabey wrapped up the session by emphasising that we need to carry on having the ‘right’ debates and challenging the right people influencing climate and energy policy.  He warned that if an ambitious climate and energy target is not agreed upon, it is due to leadership failure. 

The EU may be close to hitting its 2020 emissions targets seven years early, but longer-term thinking is required, beyond 2030, if we are going to limit global warming to just two degrees and continue to be one of the world champions of climate and energy policy.

Blog by Bárbara Mendes-Jorge

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