MEPs' 2030 vote should be based on fact, not fiction

  

The real competitiveness of Europe’s industry depends on reducing energy intensity levels, not killing investment in the green collar jobs of tomorrow, argues Monica Frassoni.

Monica Frassoni is the president of the European Alliance to Save Energy

This is the last gasp of a dying Commission that has lost its way. The package – if it remains unrevised - will seriously impact the future competitiveness and resilience of energy intensive industry. The staggering lack of courage and vision shown by the Commission also risks killing investment in companies developing and delivering the energy efficiency technologies and solutions that are essential to the delivery of the low carbon transition, weaning us off our costly dependence on fossil fuel imports and ensuring the future prosperity of European citizens.

The fight back from Europe’s future competitiveness needs to start today with the European Parliament endorsing a package of 40% greenhouse gas reductions, 30% renewable energy and 40% energy efficiency. A vote that would be based on facts of what is good for Europe - not fiction.

Today the European Parliament will vote on whether to endorse the conclusions of two influential committees that a three target approach is needed to deliver an ambitious and effective 2030 climate and energy package. Over the past weeks and days there has been significant coverage of the risks ambitious EU climate policy pose to European heavy industry. High profile editorials by CEOs such as Laskshmi Mittal of Acelor Mittal have been right to highlight the important role that European heavy industries such as steel have to play in providing the technologies and materials required for the transition to a low carbon economy. But the story being spun to and by some of the mainstream press, that keeping ambition on climate in check is key to ensuring the future competitiveness of European industry is simply not underpinned by the facts. Sadly – as demonstrated by the European Commission’s lamentable 2030 Climate and Energy Package – the European Commissioners have fallen for this spin.

What is so surprising in all this is that the European Commission’s own report on energy prices, published on 22 January alongside the 2030 package, reveals that the European industrial sector has, through implementing energy efficiency improvements, been able to successfully decouple its performance in terms of value added from its energy consumption.   Therefore, the remarkably wide energy price gap between EU and US should be considered next to the remarkable energy intensity gap between the two regions.  This achievement on energy efficiency means that EU energy-intensive goods still dominate global export markets despite the widening disparities in energy prices since 2008. It is, therefore, this competitive efficiency advantage that EU policy makers should be trying protect, promoting an ambitious package of targets and measures that would allow the EU to unlock its full energy efficiency potential and realise the estimated €500 billion a year energy savings alone could save the EU by 2050. 

Instead, under the misguided banner of protecting European competitiveness, the European Commission has announced a new climate and energy package for 2030 which will include a non binding (at Member State level) renewable energy target and will not include a target for energy efficiency. This effectively locks the EU economies into a business as usual trajectory.  This lack of ambition is a slap in the face for the elected representatives of European citizens, who on 9 January, voted for a triple package of binding targets: 40% greenhouse gas reductions, 30% renewable energy and 40% energy efficiency. The fact that the package was welcomed by Business Europe, Shell and others lobbying hard against the ambition required clearly indicates that this package fails the climate credibility test.  A -40% greenhouse gas target would set a dangerously low benchmark ahead of the 2015 deadline for the much-needed international climate deal. If adopted by Member States, these irresponsible recommendations will set up the Paris conference in 2015 to fail.

This is the last gasp of a dying Commission that has lost its way. The package – if it remains unrevised - will seriously impact the future competitiveness and resilience of energy intensive industry. The staggering lack of courage and vision shown by the Commission also risks killing investment in companies developing and delivering the energy efficiency technologies and solutions that are essential to the delivery of the low carbon transition, weaning us off our costly dependence on fossil fuel imports and ensuring the future prosperity of European citizens.

The fight back from Europe’s future competitiveness needs to start today with the European Parliament endorsing a package of 40% greenhouse gas reductions, 30% renewable energy and 40% energy efficiency. A vote that would be based on facts of what is good for Europe - not fiction.

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