Sustainable Energy: A unique chance for Europe

Written by The Parliament Magazine on 14 June 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

It’s crunch time for climate policy, but is the EU being ambitious enough ask MEPs Benedek Jávor and Csaba Molnár.

Broad cooperation across countries, sectors and with local stakeholders needed, say MEPs | Photo credit: Adobe Stock


Benedek Jávor, a Vice-Chair of Parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee, says that Europe's increasingly competitive renewable energy sources must play a predominant role in the European Union's future energy mix in order to ensure secure and sustainable energy systems."

Yet the Hungarian deputy notes, "The European Commission itself is very clear on the benefits of sustainable energy policies and community owned and managed renewables. It also keeps confirming its determination to make the European Union the world number one in renewables.

However, in my reading, not only does the current policy and regulatory framework lack ambition, but also some foreseen changes in the context of the clean energy union package may put brakes on the much-needed, citizen-centric energy transition and the achievement of the commitments made in Paris."


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Jávor explains, "The proposals as put forward by the Commission do not address key problems and market distortions. For example, subsidies to fossil fuel are still allowed, the privileges of nuclear are kept, energy consumption is not actively reduced and market access for renewables is undermined."

He adds, "In its report on the state of the energy union, the Commission itself acknowledges that we must accelerate our efforts. We need proper incentives for the further depletion of renewables.

"In order to speed and scale up action, there is a need for a broad and joint, EU-wide action to avoid any free-riding or any widening of the competitiveness gap between different regions of the EU. Only a stable environment can generate and allow for sufficient investments. Besides, we must make sure to take on board low income households and marginalised groups."

In Jávor's view, "We need broad cooperation - not only among member states but also among different sectors as well as with regional and local level stakeholders.

"In more general terms, with a proper renewables policy and a well-functioning energy union, we, Europeans could strengthen and reinforce our cooperation and counteract the tendencies of populism and conflict-based solutions in the world."

His colleague Csaba Molnár, who is the S&D group shadow rapporteur on renewable energy progress, says, "Trump just withdrew from the Paris agreements. Oil and gas prices have plunged to record lows. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is trying to use its shrinking leverage to raise prices again. This is our chance to rationalise EU energy policy.

"The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone. The age of fossil fuels will end long before our oil and gas reserves are depleted. It is the European Union's task to guide the market to greener energy sources."

The Hungarian MEP adds, "As the S&D group's shadow rapporteur on renewable energy, I believe that renewables are not about ideology or political affiliation. The price of solar panels has plunged by 80 per cent in the last five years. By 2025 solar energy will be the cheapest and most competitive energy source in Europe.

"Therefore, investing in renewables does not only result in a clean environment, it can also be measured in millions of new quality jobs, technological innovation, and substantial economic growth."

"However," he says, "Europe is still the largest importer of fossil fuels in the world and members of our Union are largely dependent on Russia, which uses its energy policy as a political weapon. Renewables ease this dependence.

"Therefore we want binding national renewable and energy efficiency targets. We want to do away with harmful taxes and levies on renewables and we need to prepare our grids to be able receive power generated by variable renewables. We believe that decentralised self-energy generation is the future. This is a unique chance to take back control of our energy policies. If we don't do that, someone else will."

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