Energy Community members rally at Vienna meeting

An alleged lack of financing for clean energy projects was labelled as a "Europe-wide" problem. [Chuck Coker/Flickr]

Energy Community member states concurred at the Clean Energy for a Sustainable Future forum that there is no question whether they should choose between clean energy and economic growth. reports.

For the member states, switching to clean energy is a political issue. But, although they recognise the problem of climate change, they often lack concrete action plans.

At the meeting on 9 June in Vienna, the Director of the Energy Community Secretariat, Janez Kopač, underscored that all members of the Energy Community, formed 11 years ago as a “mini, mini EU,” were aware of the consequences of climate change and that the problem united all interested parties.

Kopač said that keeping that fact in mind, he expected support for the founding of a group for climate change at the Community’s Ministerial Council, held on 9 and 10 June in Vienna.

European officials, representatives of the governments of the Community’s member states, civil society and the private sector, attended the meeting, organised by the Community in association with the Balkan Green Foundation.

Artur Runge-Metzger, director of climate strategy at the European Commission, said that the fight against climate change was not a question to be handled “behind closed doors,” but required support from both civil society and business.

Proper Energy Union governance is essential to delivering the EU’s Paris Agreement promises

Transparency and long-term planning are the only ways to reduce the cost of the transition and align climate and energy policies, argues Quentin Genard of E3G. The EU’s Governance Regulation can do that.

He pointed out that growth and the reduction of harmful gas emissions went hand in hand, adding that the development of technology had brought better and cheaper solutions, thanks to which clean energy could be competitive.

Runge-Metzger told the Energy Community members to synchronise their plans in the energy sector and improve cooperation.

Director General of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Günter Liebel, said at the meeting that renewable energy sources stimulated national added value. According to the Austrian official, who does not believe in clean coal, the development of the renewable sector calls for the clear determination of governments and security for investors.

CAN Europe Director Wendell Trio stated that climate change had already caused a lot of damage in the Balkans. Burning coal, according to Alliance for Health and the Environment data, is costing the region € 8.5 billion per year.

Trio said that the consequences of climate change had cost Serbia €5 billion over the past 15 years, which best illustrated the importance of fighting climate change.

The fact that switching to renewable sources is possible, as he put it, is proven by the latest OECD report, which showed that growth and moving to renewable energy sources go “hand in hand”. According to the OECD report, ambitious climate policies boost economic growth and may add 2.5% to the projected growth of GDP.

The transition to renewable energy sources contributes to growth, employment, and the reduction of energy imports and lowering of energy prices, Trio underscored.

UK leads the way on emissions reductions, despite overall increase across the EU

The UK recorded the largest decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union in 2015, although new research has found the emissions from the bloc increased for the first time in five years. EURACTIV’s media partner reports.

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