Accelerating the Energy Transition to Achieve Climate Neutrality
Climate change is the most pressing challenge we are facing, it resulted in a wide range of impacts across the world, it is changing faster our society, and furthermore its impact is expected to grow in the coming decades. In securing our lead in tackling climate change, we need to work towards climate innovation remaining competitive and assuring growth.
The 55% emissions reduction target for 2030 and the climate neutrality target for 2050 have already been fixed. Foremost, the Fit for 55 Package will pave the road to reach this targets. The Commission is very ambitious indeed within the framework of the first part of Fit for 55 Package; but the reality is far from being ready for this transformation, consequently, we, in the European Parliament need to find the proper balance in this debate.
Reaching climate-neutrality by 2050 means undertaking an enormous challenge, which requires a far-reaching transformation of our economies and societies, not only of our energy sector or industrial one.
Moreover, making the necessary changes in the energy sector in order to achieve these targets, it is a challenging task, in particular, for those MS that are still highly dependent on fossil fuels. These structural changes needed in the energy sector will have important social and economic consequences.
We need to ensure consistency across policies, streamline our climate ambitions, with a feasible transition, leaving no region behind, with no industrial sector being barged, ensuring further the resilience both in the energy and industrial sector, and in particular of the energy system, ensuring the security of energy supply, aiming at energy autonomy in the Union, while keeping affordable costs for the end-users. We must understand that in the end, in our fight for ideologies and dogmas the low-income families, middle-class homeowners and car-owners in rural areas without public transport, or the ones leaving in coal-dependent regions will be the ones paying the highest bill.
In terms of concrete potential for regions that are still dependent on coal, for accelerating the energy transition, gas remains largely accepted as a viable solution to make the transition feasible, and paving the future we need to focus on a more circular energy system with an increased use of renewables and decarbonised fuels including hydrogen. It is also paramount to make the transition possible for all regions!
In the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, that I am leading as a Chair we are of course very much interested in accelerating the energy transition, especially throughout the Fit for 55 Package, as our competences on energy, industrial policies, new technologies and innovation, and the competence on climate policy are very much interlinked.
In securing our lead in tackling climate change and accelerating the energy transition, we need also to work towards climate innovation and digitization, remaining competitive and assuring growth, in all our industrial sectors, and in particular in the heavy ones. The competitiveness of the European industry, especially of the heavy energy consuming one, securing jobs and creating new jobs, is not an option; it needs to be ensured.
We need to back the green transition that we are all expecting to happen with a consistent and horizontal energy policy. It is also imperative that we see environmental policies and the ones in the field of energy reinforcing each other and not as one subservient to the other.
The energy transition comes with its challenges on one hand, but on the other hand we need to also see its benefits. It will create significant investment opportunities, will help Member States restore their economies while deepening their energy transition, and at the same time creating jobs, it will provide certainty to investors and for sure it will accelerate the much needed economic recovery.
I see that along the process, this acceleration needs to secure our citizens access to affordable clean energy, while ensuring the security of a less dependent supply. For this, we need to accelerate the transition towards a more integrated and decarbonised energy system in EU, by boosting energy efficiency and renewable energy uptake, in order to reduce the total of energy our industries need, their production costs. Meeting the increased production that is expected due to numerous factors (households needs, rising electrification, electric mobility) will require not only enhanced generation of renewable energy, but also consolidated public and private investments in infrastructure, either new one, either in transforming the existing infrastructure across the Member States, building storage capacities, and last, but not least a developed and competitive renewables market. It will also require investing in developing new technologies, investing in building new engineering skills for professionals in the field or reskilling professionals in the field.
As Chair of the ITRE Committee, my long-term commitment is to achieving the ambitious targets on climate policies with a coherent industrial policy, with a just and inclusive transition and maintaining the security of energy supply in the Union.
The challenge of transitioning to a cleaner future ahead of us, was already enormous without the burden of the urgency to react and act. Therefore, accelerating the energy transition is a challenge, but can be realised efficiently and effectively – if we find the right mix of legislative framework combined with an appropriate investment framework under the Fit for 55 Package.