by Jack Rosebro
|The EC predicts CO2 emissions will rise (especially in transportation), and is calling for deeper cuts. Click to enlarge.|
Declaring that “the EU’s present energy policy is not sustainable,” the European Commission (EC) has proposed a three-year action plan toward a common European energy policy that would improve the continent’s precarious energy security.
Achieving this, in the Commission’s words, requires “catalysing a new industrial revolution, accelerating the change to low carbon growth and, over a period of years, dramatically increasing the amount of local, low emission energy that [EU member states] produce and use.”
The Commission has called on the European Parliament and on leaders of EU member states to endorse the plan at a forthcoming summit in March.
The action plan is part of an EC White Paper entitled An Energy Policy for Europe that was released yesterday as part of the 2007 Strategic EU Energy Review. In the report, the Commission projects that a business-as-usual strategy would increase the EU’s dependence on externally-sourced energy from 50% of total energy consumption today to 65% by 2030, with dependence on gas imports increasing from 57% to 84% and oil from 82% to 93%.
With regard to oil and gas supplies in 2030, the Commission notes that “it is not clear from where, and how, these supplies would come.”
The authors of the report see bleak times ahead if member states cannot reach common ground on energy, flatly declaring that—absent sustainable, secure and reasonably priced energy—the EU will achieve neither their own economic goals such as the Lisbon Strategy nor the Millennium Development Goals (halving poverty and hunger by 2015, providing free education for all, improving access to health care, sustainable development).
Despite efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the Commission also predicts that EU-produced GHGs will increase by around 5% by 2030, and calls on the European Union to push for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
The report also suggests that to minimize the costs of adaptation to climate change, global emissions in 2050 must be reduced by up to 50% compared to 1990, implying reductions in industrialized countries of 60-80% by that year.
In addition to restating existing EU proposals, such as a 20% increase in energy efficiency as well as a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas production compared to 1990 levels by 2020, An Energy Policy for Europe incorporates an Action Plan that includes:
Binding agreements to source 20% of Europe’s energy from renewable sources, with half of that (10%) coming from biofuels, by 2020.
Further separation of energy production from energy distribution to ensure more uniform energy costs among member states.
Increased spending on energy research by at least 50% over the next seven years, including the funding of up to twelve large-scale demonstrations of low-carbon commercial power generation.
Diversification of external energy suppliers.
Progress towards binding targets would be monitored by the Commission in a series of biannual reports. France and Germany have been especially resistant to energy market changes, while citizens of member states which have an abundance of electrical power, such as Sweden, have seen their electricity rates rise under new schemes to achieve energy rate parity, access, and choice across the continent.
Although the draft of An Energy Policy for Europe had optimistically described the EU’s relationship with external gas suppliers as “successful and established,” such language is not present in the final version of the report. The Commission does note that “several Member States are largely or completely dependent on one single gas supplier.” Only Gazprom, Russia’s state natural gas agency, fits that description.
Notable by their absence are aspirations toward energy independence; despite the successes of wind energy in Denmark, Germany, and Spain as well as biofuels in Sweden, the European Commission as well as many EU leaders seem to be resigned to the future of their continent as one which will never be able to satisfy its own energy needs.
Acute energy shortages could in fact threaten the EU’s cohesive strength, the Commission warns, pointing out that “mechanisms to ensure solidarity between Member States in the event of an energy crisis are not yet in place.”
A mid-term review of EU mobility needs, completed this summer, noted common objectives between both transport policy and energy policy—namely, lowering CO2 emissions and reducing EU import dependency on fossil fuels.
However, a separate European Commission communication entitled Biofuels Progress Report has concluded that none of the nineteen EU member states that had voluntarily set biofuels targets ranging from 3% to 7% for 2010 are likely to achieve those goals.
Although An Energy Policy for Europe sets general targets for energy efficiency as well as calling for an increased use of renewables, including biofuels, the policy paper nevertheless proposes no other measures specific to the EU’s transportation needs.
An Energy Policy For Europe (final draft)
Keep Europe moving: Sustainable mobility for our continent (mid-term review of the European Commission’s 2001 Transport White Paper, June 2006)