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Energy – EESC President Christa Schweng and Commissioner Kadri Simson say 2021 will be the year of delivery



The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the European Commission believe that the clean energy transition must be at the heart of the post-COVID-19 European Union and that now is the time to accelerate implementation of green measures for economic recovery.

2021 must be the time for action to speed up implementation of measures for energy efficiency and sustainable development in Europe. This is the message that EESC President Christa Schweng and European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson conveyed at the discussion on the presentation of the European Commission's 2021 Work Programme and its priorities in the field of energy, held in Brussels and remotely on 11 February 2021.

Schweng stressed that in 2020 (compared to 2019), global energy demand was estimated to have dropt by around 5%, energy-related CO2 emissions by 7%, and energy investment by 18% but that recoveries from previous global economic crises had generally been accompanied by a large jump in emissions. "A similar rebound in emissions can be expected after this crisis unless an effort is made to place green energy at the heart of the economic recovery. Now is the time to accelerate clean energy transitions, energy resilience and sustainable development," she said.

The prompt and targeted implementation of the EU financial programmes (Recovery and Resilience Facility, NextGenerationEU, Just Transition Plans) will play a key role in the EU's recovery and in achieving the European Green Deal targets. "It is important to underline that the energy transition is not just a technological issue but also a profoundly social and political challenge. Due consideration, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, must be given to the real impact of action taken in the energy sector on the life of citizens and business." That is why it is important that civil society organizations are involved in the preparation of the national recovery plans.

For her part, Simson described 2020 as a difficult, unprecedented and disruptive year but also a breakthrough year for energy in Europe: "Almost one year ago, the Commission proposed a new European Green Deal Strategy for Europe. And with it, we set the goal of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. The member states have now also endorsed this objective."

Looking ahead, she mentioned that while 2020 was the year of strategies and visions, 2021 would be the year of delivery, with several key legislative proposals on renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy performance of buildings, methane emissions and the gas market, to be adopted in June: "As announced in the Commission's 2021 Work Programme, the "Fit for 55" package will include five legislative proposals revising existing energy legislation in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels, as decided in the Climate Target Plan in September last year. To this end, the renewable energy share needs to increase to 38-40% by 2030."

Stressing the importance of the cooperation between the EESC and the Commission, Ms Simson added that the Committee's members could play a crucial role in achieving these goals, as the expertise of business and civil society players will be valuable in the process of prioritising energy and climate projects in both the Recovery and Resilience Plans and the Just Transition Plans.

In this respect, Baiba Miltoviča, president of the EESC Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN), referred to the need to coordinate work among the EU institutions and the importance of the social and societal dimension of the energy transition: "In many EESC opinions, TEN section members have discussed energy poverty, which has become a pressing issue in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Energy poverty is an example of social, environmental and economic injustice. The risk is that those in energy poverty will end up paying for the energy transition and energy policies. We need to do more in this regard".

For more information on the TEN section's activities, please consult the website.


Germany to speed up wind and solar energy expansion




The German government plans to speed up the expansion of wind and solar energy by 2030 as part of its climate protection programme, a draft law seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday (2 June).

The new plan aims to expand installed production capacity of onshore wind energy to 95 gigawatts by 2030 from a previous target of 71 GW, and of solar energy to 150 GW from 100 GW, the draft showed.

Germany's installed capacity of onshore wind power stood at of 54.4 GW and of solar energy at 52 GW in 2020.

The climate protection programme also envisages funding of around 7.8 billion euros ($9.5 billion) for next year, including 2.5 billion euros for building refurbishment and an extra 1.8 billion euros for subsidies for electric car purchases.

The plan also includes doubling support to help industry change processes to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, such as in steel or cement production.

However, these financial pledges can only be approved after the German federal election in September.

The move comes after Germany's Constitutional Court ruled in April that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government had failed to set out how to cut carbon emissions beyond 2030 after plaintiffs challenged a 2019 climate law. Read more.

Earlier this month, the cabinet approved draft legislation for more ambitious CO2 reduction targets, including being carbon neutral by 2045 and cutting German carbon emissions by 65% by 2030 from 1990 levels, up from a previous target for a 55% cut.

($1 = €0.8215)

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Commission and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst announce new partnership to support investments in clean technologies for low-carbon industries



Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Bill Gates have announced a pioneering partnership between the European Commission and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to boost investments in the critical climate technologies that will enable the net-zero economy. Presented on the occasion of the sixth Mission Innovation Ministerial meeting, the new partnership aims to mobilize new investments of up to €820 million/$1 billion between 2022-26 to build large-scale, commercial demonstration projects for clean technologies – lowering their costs, accelerating their deployment, and delivering significant reductions in CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. 

This new partnership intends to invest in a portfolio of high-impact EU-based projects initially in four sectors with a high potential to help deliver on the economic and climate ambitions of the European Green Deal: green hydrogen; sustainable aviation fuels; direct air capture; and long-duration energy storage. In doing so, it seeks to scale up key climate-smart technologies and speed up the transition towards sustainable industries in Europe.  

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “With our European Green Deal, Europe wants to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. And Europe has also the great opportunity to become the continent of climate innovation. For this, the European Commission will mobilize massive investments in new and transforming industries over the next decade. This is why I'm glad to join forces with Breakthrough Energy. Our partnership will support EU businesses and innovators to reap the benefits of emission-reducing technologies and create the jobs of tomorrow.”

A press release is available online.

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EU Reporter partners "All Things Energy Forum" 02-04 June



Starting tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd June, EU Reporter is All Things Energy Forum June 02-04 is an international digital stage that will engage more than 140 Speakers and 1000 Attendees in an interactive dialogue. This high-level event will welcome more than 30 countries to deal with six mega phenomena in a novel manner, combining approaches and contemplating interrelated impacts.

The event will span over two and a half days. The first day (02/06/2021) will host government ministers and high-level industry and public executives, in two introductory panel discussions:

  • All Things Energy the EU Green Deal and the Impact of COVID-19
  • Energy Projects in SE Europe and the East Med

During the following two days, Thursday 03 - Friday 04/06/2021, the conference will host more than 100 speakers in plenary as well as specialised parallel sessions that will cover all the aspects and challenges of the energy ecosystem. The agenda will not follow the classic lines of supply, demand, policy, technology, finance etc. Instead, a novel combinatorial approach will be used focusing on the links between 1. Epidemics, 2.Economics, 3. Energy trade, 4. International politics,
5. Energy/Environment policies and 6. Disruptive Technologies.

Key issues to be discussed include:

  • New Visions of Energy: Succeeding in a disruptive context
  • New regional perspectives: The role of gas in the transition to a lower carbon economy
  • What major technology breakthroughs are revolutionizing the energy sector
  • Dynamic resilience: Preparing for extreme weather, water stress and cyber risk
  • The business outlook for oil
  • The outlook for hydrocarbon economies
  • Megaprojects: Global impact and implications
  • Rethinking hydro: Powering tomorrow’s world
  • Driving innovation: The role of governments in the future of energy

Register here to join the first edition of #ATEForum2021:

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