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Debate on European Energy Policy Hots Up, Transportation an Issue

The European Commission has presented a new Green Paper on European Energy Policy, outlining an approach to a “secure, competitive and sustainable energy policy for Europe” that seeks to unify the European approach to an energy strategy around three core objectives: sustainable development, competitiveness, and security of supply.

The Greens/European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament is already criticising the proposed strategy for being “naive and shortsighted,” particularly in respect to the transportation sector. In an echo of some of the testimony heard yesterday in the US Senate hearing on Energy Independence (earlier post), the Greens/EFA Group issued its own strategy paper calling on Europe to get “swiftly out of oil without delay.”

In its approach, the Commission is preoccupied with the security of supply. Any energy policy which fails to address how we use our energy is naive and short-sighted. We need a new approach, which puts efficient use of energy at the center of the new EU energy policy. This is particularly true for the transport sector. 96% of the energy used in the transport sector comes from oil. We cannot reduce our oil dependency without tackling our oil-guzzling transport sector.

—Claude Turmes, Vice-president of the Greens/EFA Group

The EC Green Paper. The EC documents proposes six priority areas leading to the development of a reinvigorated and unified European Energy Policy:

  • The completion of an internal European energy market, with new measures such as a European energy grid code, a priority European interconnection plan, a European Energy Regulator and new initiatives to ensure a level playing field, particularly regarding the unbundling of networks from competitive activities.

  • Security of supply in the internal market, including possible measures such as the establishment of a European Energy Supply Observatory and a revision of the existing Community legislation on oil and gas stocks to ensure they can deal with potential supply disruptions.

  • A more sustainable, efficient and diverse energy mix.

  • A series of measures to address the challenges of global warming. The Commission is putting forward possible steps for an Action Plan on energy efficiency necessary for the EU to save 20% of the energy that it would otherwise consume by 2020.

  • The development of a strategic plan to focus on energy-efficiency and low-carbon technologies.

  • The need for a common external energy policy

The Greens/EFA Vienna Declaration. The Greens/EFA strategy paper, called the Vienna Declaration, responds with eight proposed actions:

  • Establishing security of supply by reducing oil demand. “Getting swiftly out of oil without delay must be a key policy for EU.

  • Recognizing that transport policy is energy policy, and acting accordingly. The Vienna Declaration calls for the European Commission to develop a master plan for reducing oil use through:

    • Raising efficiency standards, notably of cars and trucks;
    • A partnership with large EU cities to develop soft mobility chains and public transport systems;
    • An EU policy for a single railway system and better train connections;
    • Fair competition between all transport modes through ensuring internalization of all external social and environmental costs of the different transport means, beginning with road and air transport;
    • The increased use of certain environmentally-, socially- and climate-friendly biofuels, electrified systems and fuel-cells, based on renewable sources; and
    • The introduction a windfall profit tax on big oil companies.

  • Not overestimating the impact of the EU on the world energy market. Focusing on the fields where Europe is both in a political and a technological leader such as urban transport, energy efficiency and renewables, the paper suggests, will be not only lead to better results for the global climate but also for EU businesses.

  • Increasing the competitiveness of the European energy market through a series of policy actions designed to redress what the group sees as inequitable and anti-competitive developments within the market.

  • Establishing a merit-based hierarchy for the different energy options. These include changes in mode of transport, realizing the full potential of energy efficiency and conservation, securing the massive uptake of renewable energy sources and behavioral changes. The group calls for the exclusion of nuclear energy as an option.

  • Establishing a new energy policy for Europe to become the most energy-efficient economy in the world by 2020.

  • Aggressively supporting the development of renewables.

  • Establishing a hierarchy of partnerships for energy and transport efficiency and the development of renewable energy.




I find it hard to believe that oil accounts for 96% of the European transportation sector, considering how important railroads are within Europe, and how extensively electrified the European rail network is. Considering further the fact that European electricity is now largely non-oil based, most of the energy going into electric locomotives cannot be traced to oil in any way.

Rafael Seidl

It is understandable that the immediate priority for the EU commission is energy security. Iraq is not a reliable supplier, Iran may face sanctions soon and Saudi Arabia is sitting on a demographic time bomb that will impact the whol Gulf region. The Nabucco pipeline for natural gas from the Middle East is essentially on hold. Russia is becoming increasingly autocratic and gas transit through Ukraine subject to politically motivated disruption. Nigeria is suffering from ethnic violence. And last not least, the US, China and others are prepared to wage war (by proxy in the case of Sudan) to secure future access to hydrocarbon supplies. Taken together, Europe is vulnerable.

However, the greens are right to insist energy security policy can and should go hand-in-hand with environmental policy. This includes building heating and cooling, electricity generation, industrial processes and transport. In particular, no additional nuclear power plants should be built - we have nowhere to put the radioactive waste.

Wrt motor vehicles specifically, it is perhaps worth pointing out that farming subsidies encourage unneccessary livestock transports across borders. More generally, incompatible railway systems in the EU are keeping freight on the road that should not be there.

The EU would be wise to make strategic investments related to importing BTL (feedstocks) such as palm oil from tropical countries, carbon fiber production based on flare gas (both leveraging CO2 emissions trading) and, efficient recuperative braking.

Nuclear Waste. Heard of it?

Why is it that the world is so,
EU is the Grandparents (Smartest but not much growth),
the US are Parents (2nd smartest but strongest),
and China and India are the growing chilren (geting smarter and larger and stronger)
Middle East and South America are like the Radicul Trust fund Teenagers. (Not the smartest but have the funds to dable in drugs and shopping).

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