Speaking at the European High- Level Conference on Carbon Capture and Storage in Oslo, along with the Norwegian energy minister Kjell- Børge Freiberg, Cañete presented the commission’s so-called ‘Long-Term Strategy to 2050’
So far, efforts to reduce emissions have focused on increasing the uptake of renewables to make the clean energy transition. In recent years, the Commissioner said the EU has put in place “the most advanced regulatory framework in the world” and noted that important technological advancements have been made.
Meanwhile, European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen has committed to tabling a European Green Deal within her first 100 days in office. However, new commissioners are yet be chosen and so it remains to be seen how the new team will face approach the EU’s 2050 climate goals
Among the EU’s recent successes, Cañete highlighted the reduced costs of solar panels, which have fallen by over 80 percent in the last five years. By 2030 it is expected that 65 percent of all EU electricity supply will be from renewable sources, up from the current level of 30 percent. Last year, however, the Commission published its long-term vision for a decarbonised economy, ‘A Clean Planet For All’.
"We might need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and produce negative emissions"
The report warns that the EU will likely be unable to achieve zero emissions by 2050, based on current trends. But it suggests that CCS technologies could offer a realistic solution to help reach the net zero target and develop a climate-neutral economy. In the long run, said Cañete, “we might need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and produce negative emissions.”
He continued, “according to most IPCC scenarios, it will be critically important to balance the residual emissions”. Ongoing EU-based CCS projects include the promising Norwegian Northern Lights and the Port of Rotterdam projects.
The Commissioner said the Port of Rotterdam project in particular is showing great potential because the city’s pipeline network could be extended to collect CO2 emissions from the larger industrial region, which includes Germany’s Ruhr area. At EU level, to support CCS investment, Cañete explained that the Commission is planning to invest more than €10bn from the Innovation Fund on low-carbon projects over the next decade.
The Connecting Europe Facility and Horizon Europe will also support the construction of CO2 transport lines and research and innovation programmes for 2021-2027. In his closing remarks, Commissioner Cañete stressed that national support will be key to developing these kinds of projects. He also singled out Norway as a role model which Member States can follow for CCS leadership.