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Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Climate change

18 Mar 14 15:08

Europe’s energy transition could be in worse shape indeed. While it is not certain whether the EU will meet its 2020 energy targets, it seems that there is still room for hope. Latest available data show that several countries are well on track when considering the share of renewables in their national energy consumption. According to Eurostat (10 March 2014), the share of renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy grew in all Member States.

With 2004 as baseline, the largest increases were recorded in Sweden (from 38.7% in 2004 to 51.0% in 2012), Denmark (from 14.5% to 26.0%), Austria (from 22.7% to 32.1%), Greece (from 7.2% to 15.1%) and Italy (from 5.7% to 13.5%). Overall the share of renewables in the total of energy consumption in EU28 was 14% in 2012, compared with 8.3% in 2004.

When it comes to energy efficiency, private and public investments are spreading as industries and local governments increasingly see opportunities to decrease costs.  Environment is no longer the main driving force for energy saving measures (as it used to be before the financial crisis) but sincerely, who cares when, in addition to reducing carbon emissions, profitability is boosted and new job opportunities appear.

A new policy framework for climate and energy  has recently been proposed by the European Commission. It includes a target to reduce EU domestic greenhouse gas  emissions by 40% below the 1990 level by 2030. The share of renewable energy has been set at 27% at least of the EU's energy consumption by 2030.

Many see the Commission's proposals for 2030 as weak. Activists and policy analysts were hoping the EC would come up with binding measures that would ensure, not only compliance with the objectives, but also sanctions against failing Member States.

My opinion here is that Europe’s transition towards a low carbon, green economy, fully driven by sustainable energy, can only be achieved through individual and social  behavioural change, not by binding laws which ultimately confront opposite perceptions and are often counterproductive. Awareness needs to be embraced by all economic, social and political actors for Europe to reach a fully sustainable future.

The Sustainable Energy Europe & ManagEnergy Awards identify over 300 energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transport projects annually. Proposed by small, local communities, to private, global corporations, the projects come in every shape and size but all have one thing in common: They bring Europe closer to its energy targets.

The objective of this European Commission awards competition is to give recognition and promote best-in-class projects, to increase their visibility and to ultimately enable their replication and up-scaling in other economic sectors and geographical areas. Winners receive a free video featuring their project. In the presence of Commissioner Oettinger, runners up and winners are invited to Brussels to present their project in a special networking event to take place during the upcoming EU Sustainable Energy Week (23-27 June 2014).

Final deadline to participate in this ongoing edition is 28 March 2014. So if you are one of those who are driving change without waiting to be legally bound to, submit your  sustainable energy project and get the recognition and visibility you deserve! To apply visit: Please share with your networks and let's make Europe's green future a reality!

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Earthquakes, Floods/storms, Pollution, Sustainable energy: Fossil fuel, Fracking, Nuclear, Solar, Wind, Other

Location: EU28


Bernd Wilke - 21 Mar 2014, 1:32 p.m.

Krim events may also give a boost

I totally agree with the above. But I also get the feeling that the recent events on the Krim may also give a boost to a sustainable energy Europe.

After all, fossil and other fuels - even nuclear - depend on raw materials which come from far away places. Europe neither has these resources nor the trade routes that bring them to us under control.

This is a dependency which currently shows its massive downside.

To rely on renewable energy sources which are under our control and even come after the initial investments essentially for free has therefore many advantages:

- it makes Europe more independent on the political side
- it is a competitive advantage in the long run, since it isolates the economy from market fluctuations of energy prices
- it is a competitive advantage, because the technologies developed can be sold - especially to high growth markets which currently build their energy infrastructure
- last but not least it decreased the environmental impacts on the globe and with it the associated cost to mitigate these negative impacts

How complex at expensive it is to manage the latter can be seen here

Looking at the above I think there is only one way to go - and that's renewable power and energy efficiency.

David CROUS DURAN - 21 Mar 2014, 3:39 p.m.

Hello Bern,

Thank you for your very pertinent comment. Indeed the current Krim crisis demonstrates that Russia is back in the big game and will not leave behind hard power approaches to international relations. In my opinion, despite closer links with the EU these past years, the Ukraine crises is showing us Putin's "true colours". The EU should definitely push forward its sustainable energy agenda and substantially decrease dependence on Russian gas in the years to come (I think today it accounts for around 30% of overall gas imports). So indeed, there could be a positive consequence from the Krim crisis on Europe's energy agenda.

Let's just hope they are taking the right decisions in their ongoing meeting here in Brussels! And I don’t mean to extend the list of banned Russians in the EU…

Have a wonderful weekend!


Alicia Montoya - 23 Mar 2014, 9:52 p.m.

I think future generations will laugh at our having used fossil fuels for so long (much like I laugh today at fax machines). Seems like a no brainer to use clean, free, renewable energy, right?

But to effectively transition to a clean energy future, we must continue to invest in developing these technologies and making them price competitive so we can eventually kick our dirty fossil fuel habit.

I'm currently reading "Population 10 billion" (reviewed by The Guardian here and basically, we (the human race) need to get through the next 100 years, during which our population is set to peak. After that it'll drop and with it, resource pressure, emissions, etc.

Point is, there probably won't be that future if we don't curb our emissions and clean up our act NOW. So I really look fwd to seeing the winners of this year's EU Sustainable Energy Week awards!

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