Marriage between environment and industry would work and pay
Under the Juncker Plan over €60bn will be channelled through energy projects
Maria Koleva, Brussels
10 November, 2017
Our experience here in Europe shows that it is not only desirable but essential to reconcile environmental and industrial considerations. These words of the President of the European Parliament rang out during the opening of the high-level conference on clean energy financing. According to President Tajani, only a strong industrial base and investment in new technologies can contrast climate change, strengthening the competitiveness while creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. EP President also highlighted that the EU will continue on its “chosen path” despite “the reluctance of Trump Administration to take decisive steps to tackle what today is the greatest threat to our planet.” The EU is displaying unity and determination by signing the Paris Agreement and by continuing to move forward shoulder to shoulder to implement it, including at COP 23 in Bonn, he said.
For nine hours, this forum, organised jointly by the Parliament and the Commission, gave space at Parliament’s hemicycle to political leaders, MEPs, commissioners, experts and investors to debate on the best practices but as well on the pressing challenges when it comes to clean energy transition, the role of local actors for stepping up the shift towards efficient energy, outlining the possible opportunities for investment.
A 40% reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 is the EU’s commitment. As the 'lion's share' of EU emissions are generated from energy use, clean energy has a key stage in the low-carbon economy.
EC Vice President Jyrki Katainen, who is in charge of jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, stressed that at the EU level, an extra €177bn is needed annually from 2021 onwards to reach the 2030 climate and energy goals. There will never be enough public resources available to achieve this goal, that’s why we need a strong private sector engagement, he added. Financial instruments are set to play increasingly prominent role to meet this challenge, VP Katainen said, underlining that energy represents 21% of total EFSI investment under Juncker Plan and environment and resource efficiency – 4%, which means that over €60bn will be channelled through such projects. New wind farms in Greece, gas pipeline from Bulgaria to Austria via Romania and Hungary, and building over 5,000 social houses in Spain is just a small part of what the fund is supporting in this field.
Whatever president Trump’s stance on climate, the state of California alone is the source of 15% of all the clean energy produced in the United State, with emissions reduced by 36% since 1990, and more than 500,000 jobs created in the renewables sector. Governor of California, Jerry Brown, took part at the conference and gave more flavour of what the state did and is planning to do in the climate change arena.
About the need of €400bn of investment for energy transition alerted Jerzy Buzek, MEP, chair of the Committee on industry, research and energy, who accented on the fact that most Member States are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.