The European parliament, from the outset of its recently adopted report concerning the 2030 climate and energy policy, has declared that the new EU policy in this area needs to be realistic, flexible and cost-effective.
Following the introduction of amendments, promoted by the European centre-left, end results are neither realistic nor flexible nor cheaper, in spite of the needs of the European economy. Parliament has ultimately failed to draw constructive conclusions from Europe’s past mistakes.
The doubling of CO2 emission reduction targets is unrealistic in a situation where Europe continues its unilateral climate policy. This exacerbates our loss of global competitiveness and guarantees the continued deindustrialisation of Europe. The EU should refrain from establishing new CO2 reduction targets, at least until it will be possible to determine the actual intentions and willingness of our global competitors in this field.
Binding targets demanded by the parliamentary majority concerning renewable energy and energy efficiency are far from a flexible solution. Member states, as well as specific economic sectors, have different potentials in the sphere of energy efficiency. Our intensive industry sector has already proven to be the most energy efficient. The much prophesised green revolution of job opportunities has not and will not be able to compensate for the potential losses in employment. In Europe, 27 million people are employed in the energy-intensive industry sector.
Additionally, the proposed solutions will not be cheaper. Currently in Europe, energy costs are double the amount of those across the Atlantic. Climate policy – together with taxation – is the reason for this state of affairs with energy price rises in Europe of 38 per cent from 2005 to 2012. The most advanced renewable technologies – wind turbines – reduce one tonne of CO2 emissions in energy production at a cost of almost €200 per tonne. However, in the case of photovoltaics, the costs go up to €900 per tonne of CO2 reduced. Then there are environmental costs of this policy to consider. Dispersed and unstable renewable energy sources require the support of conventional sources. In Europe this has traditionally been our coal-fired plants, often working outside of the energy grid, and simply generating electricity that is never transmitted to an end user. It is hard to find a more environmentally harmful business model.
The climate policy means not only the risk of carbon leakage. No less important is the decline in foreign investment, which, because of the too restrictive regulations, starts avoiding Europe. Even the commission data confirms that the EU share in the world distribution of foreign investment fell from 30 per cent in 2008 to 16.8 per cent in 2012.
The commission’s proposals for reducing CO2 follow the same erroneous direction. In terms of renewable energy, possible flexibility could be expected. However, in order to evaluate these intentions we must wait until the autumn, when we will be in a position to scrutinise the legislative proposals that are put forward.
However, this is just the beginning of our journey. [pullquote]Parliament is deeply divided, but an economically sustainable climate policy has clearly gained a large number of supporters[/pullquote].
We still have a chance to restore the balance lost and give our economy the stimulus it needs. For that we need a policy based on one goal, realistically determined and correlated with international agreements. We need a flexible policy for countries and specific sectors. This is the most important task to be discussed during the forthcoming European council summit in March.