There has been a mixed reaction to the last night’s European Union agreement on climate change targets.
German energy intensive industries (EDI) chief Utz Tillman says his members fear the 40 per cent energy efficiency target may lead to weaker growth and less competitiveness for EU-wide industries.
In an email statement, Tillmann told Power Engineering International that this target will particularly impact emission trading; and the sector will continue to shoulder the major burdens.
“In the 10 years between 2020 and 2030, Europe will have to once more reduce its emissions as much as in the previous 30 years. We fear that the tighter climate target will adversely affect the European network of industries and, consequently, weaken growth and competitiveness. This will intensify negative development among investors.” Tillmann deplored that the heads of state or government only half-heartedly considered the factor of competitiveness, as compared with climate protection.
Tillmann, who is also Director of the German chemical industry was also scathing about policy-makers gifting a competitive advantage to other world economies by not bringing greater consideration to bear on the issue of competitiveness.
He said that burden sharing in climate protection will remain unequal also post-2020 and that the efforts of industry to cut emissions has not been recognised. By way of example, he pointed to the German chemical industry, where greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by half since 1990 through efficiency measures and the modernisation of chemical plants in East Germany.
Tillmann warned: “The political decision-makers want us to bring about a further reduction by 22 per cent between 2020 and 2030 through emission trading. We can do so only if we do not expand production. In the worst case, we will even have to cut down our production activities.”
“Figuratively speaking, the EU is sending our international competitors a competitive advantage for free, right to their doorsteps. It is important for the EU to make up for our competitive disadvantage by way of adequate compensation measures.”
At the other end of the spectrum, renewable power interests believe the agreement forged in Brussels late on Thursday did not go far enough.
Thomas Becker, chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said: “The 27% target is disappointing and is contrary to the incoming Commission’s plans to make Europe the world leader in renewables,” adding that, “the EU urgently needs to put in place a legal and regulatory framework for renewable energy for the post-2020 period.”
“A governance structure will send a signal that Europe is open for business on renewables and will contribute to the region’s competitiveness, security and position in the global technology race,” he said.
The Council’s decision to set a non-binding interconnectivity target also shows a lack of aspiration.
Becker said: “The interconnectivity target is bewildering given the current political challenges Europe is facing. We’re in the midst of an energy crisis with Russia holding Member States to ransom over gas supplies. Yet Heads of State see fit to trot out a meaningless target that will do nothing to improve connection in the Iberian Peninsula or the security of supply in the Baltic States, let alone allow an internal energy market to develop.”
Dr Sian George CEO of Ocean Energy Europe concurred, again expressing dissatisfaction with a perceived lack of ambition.
“Europe needs higher targets for renewables – and for energy efficiency. More ambitious goals would bring a broader range of future energy technologies such as renewable ocean energy to cost-competitive levels, providing savings in the long term. All this whilst creating jobs. Member states cannot afford unambitious targets.”
Meanwhile others in the renewable sector looked on the deal as a stepping stone.
“The renewables target is a very small step to support the enormous potential that solar and other renewables represent. It is still an important signal of political resolve to overcome the existing market barriers and the adverse national political contexts where some Member States have implemented retroactive measures for renewables,” stated Frauke Thies, the European Photovoltaic Association’s Policy Director.
“The ball is now in the Court of the new European Commission to build on this minimum target with a meaningful legislative framework and fair market conditions for renewables. Technologies like solar must be able to realise their full competitive potential and keep Europe on track for the much-needed energy transition.”
EURELECTRIC Secretary General Hans ten Berge also looked favourably on what he viewed as a balanced, sensible agreement: “European leaders yesterday created the conditions for moving to a low-carbon economy in a way that is not only environmentally but also economically sustainable. EURELECTRIC is pleased to see that the Heads of States and governments learned the lessons of the 2020 climate and energy framework and decided to deliver the energy efficiency and renewables targets through market-based, cost-efficient policies”.
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