How to save the energy transition in Europe

The European Union is a historical peace project. It has created prosperity and welfare for many citizens and countries. Together, since its founding, we have overcome many crises and the biggest one we face now, besides the Covid-19 pandemic, is the climate crisis.

The latest IPCC report has once again made it very clear to us that it is our very own human actions that are provoking more and more extreme weather events and spurring climate change – ringing, once again, a very loud alarm bell that reminds us that there is not enough time left to stay at least on the 1.5-degree path that we have committed us to 2015 in the Paris agreement. What is even more alarming is that the report states that there is only a very slight chance we will be able to limit global warming to the necessary 1,5 degrees at all – leaving it very clear that this goal requires immediate, determined and effective action.

While the Greens/EFA have been advocating to put climate action at the core of European policymaking for decades, the European Commission declared the Green Deal, but also has to implement it. In July this year, the Commission has presented a comprehensive ‘Fit for 55’ package with measures addressing the most pressing climate issues by adapting its most important EU laws on climate and energy. This is an important step forward, but still not enough as several studies and calculations can show. We have to do more. The EU has at least to cut emissions by more than 55% by 2030 – we Greens demanded even more, 65%. We need to raise our ambitions.

The ‘Fit for 55’ legislative proposals are not ambitious enough and we cannot waste any more time. In her recent State of the Union speech, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, did not talk a lot about the climate. She suggested in her speech to provide an additional €4 billion for protecting the climate, which is not very effective considering that in 2019 the EU spent close to €60 billion for an agricultural policy working against the Green Deal.

Declaring 2022 the Year of European Youth, she has called upon all of us to be more like our next generation: reflective, determined, and caring; grounded in values and bold in action. But indeed, if you think of future generations you should not include gas and nuclear in the taxonomy as still discussed by the Commission, once again attacking the climate and environment goals of the Green Deal.

The declaration to implement the Green Deal of the Commission was ambitious and we have to stay ambitious also in the details. We have to reach a fully decarbonized Europe by 2050, at the latest. For that, we need to take bold measures to ensure a fast social and ecological transition of our economy. The European industry is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in Europe. It is even more important that we work with all forces for a transition to a sustainable, resilient and competitive industry.

Above all, we have to boost the energy transition to be fully based on renewables by 2040 at the latest. Instead of allocating emission certificates and handing out permits to pollute, we need to invest in renewable energies, energy efficiency and incentivize innovative solutions.

We must end greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 2040 for a strong, climate-neutral European industry-based 100 % on renewables. Strong research has to develop promising technologies and propel the EU to be an innovation leader and support small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups in Europe.

A sustainable economy must be based on resource and energy efficiency as well as the circular economy. We need strong action from Brussels for a decarbonized, competitive and sustainable economy, in good cooperation with the national governments of the member states. 

Shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energies will also provide numerous jobs. A study by McKinsey estimates that the transition could create additional 4.9 million jobs by 2050, of which 1.5 million will be in the power sector alone and 1.1 million in the buildings sector.

Working against climate change as a job booster shows that it is never wise to waste the inherent chances of a crisis for even better transformation. As such, let’s fight against the climate crisis with ambition, innovation, and courage by using all the force of the policy instruments the EU has.

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