EU Commission’s energy security plan ‘blind to renewables’

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In the first test for Europe’s energy policy since the Paris climate summit, the EU Commission is accused of being ‘blind to renewables’ after it, today, released an energy security proposal which could lock Europe into decades of fossil fuel use. Ignoring falling demand for gas, and the role of renewable energy and energy efficiency in decarbonising the economy and securing supply, this release continues to shackle Europe to gas projects that could be rendered worthless in a carbon-constrained world. As the EU takes stock of what the Paris climate agreement means for Europe, pressure is on for it to live up to the ambitious promises delivered in the French capital by strengthening its 2030 target and putting in place robust criteria for moving away from fossil fuels – including gas – and towards a 100 per cent renewable future.

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  • “The Commission is backing the wrong horse: unlike gas, renewable energy does not need to be imported, and it brings major economic and climate benefits by creating jobs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. President Juncker pledged to make Europe a renewable energy leader, yet the EU is rapidly losing ground to competitor economies. While global investment in renewables grew last year, in Europe such investment was at its lowest since 2006, and concentrated in just a handful of EU Member States,” –  Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office
  • “We don’t have long to completely decarbonise our energy systems. But instead of prioritising genuine solutions like renewables and energy efficiency, Europe is shackling itself to gas. The ‘energy security package’ locks Europe into decades of fossil fuel use whilst stifling renewables. Why invest in gas we don’t need? Energy efficiency improves energy security and creates jobs. For every €1 million invested in energy efficiency, there are twice as many jobs compared to traditional power generation. Instead of securing profits for an ailing oil and gas industry, Europe can benefit from energy and environmental security through energy savings.” – Molly Walsh, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe
  • “Pumping money into unnecessary infrastructure for liquefied natural gas is completely incompatible with a fossil-free future. It opens Europe’s back door to even more carbon-intensive imports like fracked gas. Europe is pushing controversial extraction beyond its borders, and turning a blind-eye to the impacts.” – Antoine Simon, anti-fracking campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe
  • “It’s like the Paris agreement never happened and the Commission is stuck on gas, dishing out a costly proposal that will keep Europe hooked on energy imports. It is high time Europe embraces the renewable energy transition. Only if it focuses on renewables and energy efficiency will Europe meet its climate targets and reduce its dependence on foreign energy supplies.” – Jiri Jerabek, energy policy adviser at Greenpeace EU
  • “The Commission is basing its strategy on a huge over-estimation of demand for gas, as the European Court of Auditors also recently concluded. In doing so, the Commission is able to quietly push through projects that, officially, it takes a critical line on, such as the Nordstream Pipeline. These proposals effectively mean Commission vice president Maroš Šefčovič is rolling out the red carpet for Gazprom. Instead of pumping millions into projects that are doomed to fail, the Commission should wait until new, more credible estimates for gas demand can be formulated. The Commission has here completely ignored the Paris Agreement. Commissioner Cañete had announced that the EU’s climate and energy policy would be modified to fit the ambitious goals agreed at the climate negotiations, but there’s no trace of that in today’s proposals. Instead the Commission continues to cling to the outdated fossil fuel model of energy supply rather than adopting a forward-looking energy policy that would ensure both energy security and climate protection. Likewise, there’s nothing in the proposals on improving energy efficiency and promoting renewables in the transport sector or in heating and cooling systems. Yet EU demand for heating could be reduced by 30%-50%. This would require binding standards for heating and air-conditioning systems, and extending existing initiatives for energy efficiency in buildings.” – MEP Claude Turmes, energy policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA Group
  • “The EU has to redo its homework and set out a pathway to meet stricter energy efficiency and renewables targets. We can’t have confidence in a plan that plays fast and loose with global warming and fails to accelerate Europe’s shift to 100% renewable energy.” – Greenpeace EU’s climate policy adviser, Bram Claeys
  • “Like all other countries, the EU needs to ensure its policies are coherent with what was agreed in Paris, and needs to substantially increase its targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050. This discussion needs to take place now, and not be postponed for another three to five years as the European commission is proposing.” – Wendel Trio, the director of Climate Action Network-Europe

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