EU’s Policies and Actions on Energy Transition

Last June 5 to 10, 2014, Psychology Volunteers on Bikes External Relations Officer Monica Manluluyo attended the 2014 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability. The 6-day conference was held in Tongji University, Shanghai, China where experts on environment, energy, urban development and economy discussed regional and global ecological civilization and green development in the new age together with participants around the world.

mireia_pauloMireia Paulo Noguera is a Research Fellow at Fudan University Shanghai, China & Ruhr University and Bochum, Germany. She is an Expert on EU-China Relations (Financial Services, e-Governance, Environment, Civil Society). During the 2014 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability: Symposium on Energy Transition and Climate Change held last June 5, 2014 at Tongji University, Shanghai, China, she discussed about The European Union’s Focus on Policies and Actions regarding Climate and Energy.

There is an ongoing economic crisis around the world. In Europe, the unemployment level is rising, there is massive modernisation investment, and industrial production is -20% with the crisis back to the 1990s. In 2009, industrial production dropped to -4% and was the worst since the 1930s.

To overcome this crisis, the European Union came up with 3 key climate and energy policies: the 2020 Package, 2030 Framework and Roadmap 2050. The 2020 Package is a strategy with a 7 flagship initiative that includes 1) Smart growth: innovation union, youth on the move (Education), digital society; 2) Sustainable growth: climate, energy and mobility – resource efficient Europe, competitiveness; and 3) Inclusive growth: employment and skills and poverty reduction.

Out of the three major goals of the 2020 Strategy, EU has already achieved the reduction of Greenhouse Gas levels and the increase of renewable energy both by 20%. However, energy consumption has not yet been reduced by 20%.

There are several challenges to be considered for the 2030 Framework. The impact of the financial crisis leaves a problem in the rise of prices and the funds needed to invest in renewable that are a key project element that will lead to innovation. There is also the matter of energy import dependency and the stages of energy chain. Furthermore, there are differences between member states, and equitable burden sharing has to be ensured. On the other hand, decoupling for gross domestic product growth from GHG Emissions will continue, and through this Framework, there is an expected reduction of coal users in the EU carbon market.

The third program, Roadmap 2050, aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80%. The challenges to this program, however, include competitiveness in terms of price, security of supply, and environmental protection.

The need to tackle climate change cannot be delayed or negotiated away, and EU needs to maintain momentum on renewable energy to reap benefits. As the Resident Director of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Shanghai, Caterina Schlager, said, “If we continue being dependent on fossil fuels, it would be like depending on world peace.”