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Boosting Offshore Renewable Energy for a Climate Neutral Europe

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To help meet the EU's goal of climate neutrality by 2050, the European Commission today presents the EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy. The strategy proposes to increase Europe's offshore wind capacity from its current level of 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030 and to 300 GW by 2050. The Commission aims to complement this with 40 GW of ocean energy and other emerging technologies such as floating wind and solar by 2050.

This ambitious growth will be based on the vast potential across all of Europe's sea basins and on the global leadership position of EU companies in the sector. It will create new opportunities for industry, generate green jobs across the continent, and strengthen the EU's global leadership in offshore energy technologies. It will also ensure the protection of our environment, biodiversity and fisheries.

European Green Deal Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Today's strategy shows the urgency and opportunity of ramping up our investment in offshore renewables. With our vast sea basins and industrial leadership, the European Union has all that it needs to rise up to the challenge. Already, offshore renewable energy is a true European success story. We aim to turn it into an even greater opportunity for clean energy, high quality jobs, sustainable growth, and international competitiveness.”

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “Europe is a world leader in offshore renewable energy and can become a powerhouse for its global development. We must step up our game by harnessing all the potential of offshore wind and by advancing other technologies such as wave, tidal and floating solar. This Strategy sets a clear direction and establishes a stable framework, which are crucial for public authorities, investors and developers in this sector. We need to boost the EU's domestic production to achieve our climate targets, feed the growing electricity demand and support the economy in its post-COVID recovery.”

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “Today's strategy outlines how we can develop offshore renewable energy in combination with other human activities, such as fisheries, aquaculture or shipping, and in harmony with nature. The proposals will also allow us to protect biodiversity and to address possible socio-economic consequences for sectors relying on good health of marine ecosystems, thus promoting a sound coexistence within the maritime space.”

To promote the scale-up of offshore energy capacity, the Commission will encourage cross-border cooperation between member states on long term planning and deployment. This will require integrating offshore renewable energy development objectives in the National Maritime Spatial Plans which coastal states are due to submit to the Commission by March 2021. The Commission will also propose a framework under the revised TEN-E Regulation for long-term offshore grid planning, involving regulators and the member states in each sea basin.

The Commission estimates that investment of nearly €800 billion will be needed between now and 2050 to meet its proposed objectives. To help generate and unleash this investment, the Commission will:

  • Provide a clear and supportive legal framework. To this end, the Commission today also clarified the electricity market rules in an accompanying Staff Working Document and will assess whether more specific and targeted rules are needed. The Commission will ensure that the revisions of the state aid guidelines on energy and environmental protection and of the Renewable Energy Directive will facilitate cost-effective deployment of renewable offshore energy.
  • Help mobilize all relevant funds to support the sector's development. The Commission encourages Member States to use the Recovery and Resilience Facility and work together with the European Investment Bank and other financial institutions to support investments in offshore energy through InvestEU. Horizon Europe funds will be mobilized to support research and development, particularly in less mature technologies.
  • Ensure a strengthened supply chain. The strategy underlines the need to improve manufacturing capacity and port infrastructure and to increase the appropriately skilled workforce to sustain higher installation rates. The Commission plans to establish a dedicated platform on offshore renewables within the Clean Energy Industrial Forum to bring together all actors and address supply chain development.

Offshore renewable energy is a rapidly growing global market, notably in Asia and the United States, and provides opportunities for EU industry around the world. Through its Green Deal diplomacy, trade policy and the EU's energy dialogues with partner countries, the Commission will support global uptake of these technologies.

To analyze and monitor the environmental, social and economic impacts of offshore renewable energy on the marine environment and the economic activities that depend on it, the Commission will regularly consult a community of experts from public authorities, stakeholders and scientists. Today, the Commission has also adopted a new guidance document on wind energy development and EU nature legislation.

Background

Offshore wind produces clean electricity that competes with, and sometimes is cheaper than, existing fossil fuel-based technology. European industries are fast developing a range of other technologies to harness the power of our seas for producing green electricity. From floating offshore wind, to ocean energy technologies such as wave and tidal, floating photovoltaic installations and the use of algae to produce biofuels, European companies and laboratories are currently at the forefront.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy sets the highest deployment ambition for offshore wind turbines (both fixed-bottom and floating), where commercial activity is well advanced. In these sectors, Europe has already gained unrivalled technological, scientific and industrial experience and strong capacity already exists across the supply chain, from manufacturing to installation.

While the Strategy underlines the opportunities across all of the EU's sea basins – the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic – and for certain coastal and island communities, the benefits of these technologies are not limited to coastal regions. The Strategy highlights a broad range of inland areas where manufacturing and research is already supporting offshore energy development.

More information

Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy

Staff Working Document on the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy

Memo (Q&A) on the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy

Factsheet on the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy

Factsheet on Offshore Renewable Energy and key technologies

Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy webpage

 

Climate change

ECB sets up climate change centre

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The European Central Bank (ECB) has decided to set up a climate change centre to bring together the work on climate issues in different parts of the bank. This decision reflects the growing importance of climate change for the economy and the ECB’s policy, as well as the need for a more structured approach to strategic planning and co-ordination.The new unit, which will consist of around ten staff working with existing teams across the bank, will report to ECB President Christine Lagarde (pictured), who oversees the ECB’s work on climate change and sustainable finance.“Climate change affects all of our policy areas,” said Lagarde. “The climate change centre provides the structure we need to tackle the issue with the urgency and determination that it deserves.”The climate change centre will shape and steer the ECB’s climate agenda internally and externally, building on the expertise of all teams already working on climate-related topics. Its activities will be organised in workstreams, ranging from monetary policy to prudential functions, and supported by staff that have data and climate change expertise. The climate change centre will start its work in early 2021.

The new structure will be reviewed after three years, as the aim is to ultimately incorporate climate considerations into the routine business of the ECB.

  • The five work streams of the climate change centre focus on: 1) financial stability and prudential policy; 2) macroeconomic analysis and monetary policy; 3) financial market operations and risk; 4) EU policy and financial regulation; and 5) corporate sustainability.

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Environment

UK and France can lead mobilization of tropical forest protection investment

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Lack of adequate finance has long been one of the biggest challenges facing natural climate solutions. Currently, the primary sources of revenue from forests, marine ecosystems, or wetlands come from extraction or destruction. We need to change the underlying economics to make natural ecosystems worth more alive than dead.  If we don’t, the destruction of nature will continue at pace, contributing to irreversible climate change, biodiversity loss and devastating the lives and livelihoods of local and Indigenous people, writes Emergent Executive Director Eron Bloomgarden.

The good news is that 2021 is off to a promising start. Earlier this month at the One Planet Summit, significant financial commitments were made for nature. Chief among these was UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to spend at least £3 billion of international climate finance on nature and biodiversity over the next five years. Prior to this announcement, 50 countries committed to protect at least 30% of their lands and oceans.

This is welcome news. There is no solution to the climate or biodiversity crises without ending deforestation. Forests make up roughly a third of the potential emissions reductions needed to achieve the targets set in the Paris Agreement. They hold 250 billion tons of carbon, a third of the world’s remaining carbon budget for keeping temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial age. They absorb approximately 30% of global emissions, hold 50% of the world’s remaining terrestrial biodiversity, and support the livelihoods of more than a billion people who depend on them. In other words, ending tropical deforestation (in parallel with decarbonizing the economy) is essential if we are to keep on the pathway to 1.5 degrees and preserve our essential biodiversity.

The question is how to commit this funding in a way that drives toward ending deforestation, for good.

For this, tropical forest protection needs to happen across entire countries or states, working with governments and policymakers, who with the right mix of public and private funding, can commit to reducing deforestation at massive scale.

This isn't a new idea, and it builds on lessons learned over the past two decades. Central among those is that large scale programs will not materialize in the absence of massively increased levels of both public and private support. Even funding support amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars is not always sufficient to give countries confidence that large-scale forest protection programs are worth the up-front investment in monetary and political capital.

The scale of funding needed is far beyond what can realistically be achieved with government-to-government aid flows or conservation funding alone; private sector capital has to be mobilized as well.

The best way to achieve this is by using international markets for carbon credits and capitalizing on the growing demand from the private sector for high-quality, high-impact offsets as they race toward net-zero emissions goals. Under such a system, governments receive payments for the emission reductions they achieve through preventing forest loss and/or degradation.

The key is for donor governments like the UK, France and Canada to help build the infrastructure to value nature properly, including supporting conservation and protection, as well as the establishment and expansion of voluntary and compliance carbon markets that include crediting for forest credits.

On this latter point, following Norway’s lead, they can use part of their pledged funding to establish a floor price for the credits generated by large-scale programs. This approach leaves the door open for private buyers to potentially pay a higher price in light of the soaring demand for such credits, while giving the governments of forest countries peace of mind that there is a guaranteed buyer no matter what happens.

We are at an inflection point where significant new forest protection programs could be mobilized by a quantum increase in public and private finance. Donor governments are in a position now to secure US$ billions in co-funding from a range of private actors in order to support national forest protection programs that generate carbon credits. Channeling additional public and mission-driven funds will catalyze private investment and would be transformative in accelerating the development of this critical market, which would benefit the green recovery, the creditworthiness of forest countries, and the well-being of the planet and humanity.

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Environment

Climate Diplomacy: EVP Timmermans and HR/VP Borrell welcome the US return to the Paris Agreement and engage with Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry

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Following the inauguration of President Biden, the EU is immediately engaging with the new US Administration on tackling the climate crisis. In a bilateral videoconference on 21 January, Executive Vice-President for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, will discuss the preparation of the COP26 climate summit with the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Executive Vice-President Timmermans and High-Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell issued a Joint Statement, welcoming the decision by President Biden for the United States to re-join the Paris Agreement: “We are looking forward to having the United States again at our side in leading global efforts to combat the climate crisis. The climate crisis is the defining challenge of our time and it can only be tackled by combining all our forces. Climate action is our collective global responsibility. COP26 in Glasgow this November will be a crucial moment to increase global ambition, and we will use the upcoming G7 and G20 meetings to build towards this. We are convinced that if all countries join a global race to zero emissions, the whole planet will win.”

The EU submitted a new Nationally Determined Contribution to the UNFCCC Secretariat in December 2020, as part of its implementation of the Paris Agreement. The EU has committed to a 55% net reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, as a stepping stone to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The Joint Statement is available online here.

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