Sustainable Energy: Implementation of clean energy package faces challenges

Written by Julie Levy-Abegnoli on 14 June 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

MEPs agree that the 'Clean energy for all' package is ambitious, but there are challenges ahead.

Implementation of clean energy package faces challenges | Photo credit: Adobe Stock


Last November, the European Commission presented its 'Clean energy for all' package.

Now, MEPs are hard at work assessing the executive's proposals and identifying the key challenges in achieving clean energy for all.

Jerzy Buzek, who chairs Parliament's industry, research and energy committee, says, "Sustainable energy innovation has been taking place at an unprecedented scale and pace in the EU. 


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"It has sparked profound change in our energy systems, above all by adding flexible, dispersed generation of renewable energy in our own backyards to conventional generation in big industrial sources. 

"Adapting our market rules to these developments is one of the biggest objectives of the 'Clean energy package' we are now working on in the European Parliament."

But, he points out, "This, however, is not the end of the process, and we must ensure that the search for new innovative energy solutions continues. 

"We need them in order to make the energy union a success - by ensuring uninterrupted access to secure, affordable and clean energy for every household and business in Europe. 

"We also need such solutions in order to fulfil the EU's share of climate obligations in a cost-effective way and to encourage others worldwide to follow the path, although this seems now to be even more difficult than ever before."

The Polish MEP is gearing up for EU Sustainable Energy Week, which he says "comes as a particularly timely forum for open discussion between different players on the energy scene: the public and private sectors, researchers, scientists, civil society and others. 

"Conferences like this one are much needed to foster understanding and trust between all these groups and their interests - as a precondition for fruitful innovation."

Morten Helveg Petersen, a Vice-Chair of Parliament's industry, research and energy committee, describes the clean energy package as "currently the single most important piece of legislation in EU policymaking. It touches upon all key EU sectors: research and innovation, construction, industry, transport, skills, finance and more.

"It is also a test of what the Commission, Parliament and Council are capable of, in terms of living up to our commitments to the Paris agreement. An even greater task following President Trump's completely irresponsible withdrawal from the deal."

The Danish deputy says that the main challenges will be "to obtain the right level of ambition and to keep in mind the impact of the proposals in their entirety. Coordination is key. We have to find the right course in the many and divergent ideas on how to progress the proposals towards the best results for the EU. Not an easy task, especially as it regards future-proofing our way of living.

"That is why we have focus on getting the guiding principles right and then, after that, the actions and initiatives that will help us achieve our goals. To me, the guiding principle of putting energy efficiency first is the right priority. 

"But it is a lack of respect of the principle to set the energy efficiency target to 30 per cent for 2030. You cannot call for ambition and then sit on your hands, and that is why I try to make the case for raising the binding energy efficiency target to 40 per cent for 2030."

British MEP Theresa Griffin points out that, "With more than 50 million Europeans living in energy poverty, 2016 being the hottest year in history and Donald Trump pulling the US out of the Paris agreement, it is high time that the EU leads on our future energy and climate challenges."

She explains, "Our energy system is undergoing profound changes, especially as we aim to shift from a system based on traditional centralised generation, to a more decentralised, energy efficient, flexible and largely renewables-based framework. To make this happen, Europe needs to re-design its energy system to promote decentralisation and new modes of energy production and uses."

Griffin, the winner of this year's MEP award for energy, adds, “I strongly believe that as EU leaders, we have a responsibility to enable a fair energy transition for all. In this context, I am advocating for a clear political commitment to prioritise renewable energy and energy efficiency - making Europe the world leader in these fields. 

"This perspective will enable us to achieve other objectives, such as the development of sustainable jobs, security of our energy supply, affordable prices for all consumers and eradicating energy poverty. 

"More than ever, member states will need to agree on a strong and ambitious EU framework if our energy transition to take place. In this context, the European Parliament will also have a strong role to play."

Luxembourgish MEP Claude Turmes is confident that, "If we get it right, the 'Clean energy for all Europeans' package could be a milestone. It comes at a time when ambitious policies can no longer be postponed if we want to reach the Paris agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century."

But, he points out, "This requires the EU to establish a net-zero emission, highly energy-efficient and fully renewables-based economy by 2050 at the latest. This would translate into increased 2030 targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, as well as a proper carbon budget. These are fundamental elements of the governance of the energy union, the cornerstone of the clean energy package.

"These changes cannot be achieved only by imposing new obligations on member states. They should rather be the consequence of joint efforts undertaken at different levels: beyond borders by several member states joining forces in macro-regional partnerships, and at subnational level with cities and regions, citizens, cooperatives, investors, businesses. The governance of the energy union should be transparent and inclusive so that these numerous and powerful driving forces unleash their potential."

Turmes, who will be a speaker at this year's EU Sustainable Energy Week, says, "Governance is all about mobilising actors to build a large societal consensus around climate change and the energy transition, as such EU Sustainable Energy Week is an important moment. 

"Thousands of participants from all over Europe will converge in Brussels for a creative exchange of practices. They are instrumental in helping the EU regain citizens' confidence around the energy transition, a true EU success story."

 

About the author

Julie Levy-Abegnoli is a journalist for the Parliament Magazine

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