EU backing wrong horse in energy transformation race

18 November 2015

The EU’s energy strategy is dangerously at odds with the urgent need to transform Europe’s energy system and fight climate change, Friends of the Earth Europe has said today in response to the publication of a progress report.

The European Commission vice president for the energy union, Maroš Šefčovič, gave his ‘State of the Energy Union’ speech in Brussels, and set out next steps for Europe's energy future.

They show Europe plans to go ahead with multi-billion euro gas projects instead of switching these investments to efficiency and renewables.

Brook Riley, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “The Commission has fallen for industry spin that gas is a solution to climate change and energy security. This position completely ignores the €400 billion the EU is spending every year on energy imports, and the overwhelming scientific consensus that the huge majority of fossil fuels, including gas, will need to remain in the ground if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

“Whatever global climate agreement is made in Paris next month, it will have to be enacted through real energy choices and investment decisions to move countries away from fossil fuels well before the middle of the century. It’s vital to back the right horse in the energy transition race and intensify efforts to save energy and switch to renewables.”

Analysis from the United Nations Environment Programme shows the ambition of global emission cuts needs to increase threefold in order to limit temperature rise to 2°C. By prioritising energy efficiency and renewables in the Energy Union, including community-owned renewables, the EU could achieve almost 55% emissions cuts by 2030 – far more than its current 40% by 2030 target.

The EU’s current 27% by 2030 targets for energy efficiency and renewables are at odds with key findings from the European Commission's own research which show higher targets will bring major savings on health costs, reduce dependency on energy imports and significantly increase GDP.