Energy 27 May, 2019 9:00 am   
COMMENTS: Jerzy Buzek

Buzek: We will achieve the success of energy transformation together or not at all

Climate neutrality until 2050 – this is the most important postulate of the new long-term energy and climate strategy of the European Union. The European Commission had published it a few months ago, just before the COP24 climate summit in Katowice began – writes prof. Jerzy Buzek, former Prime Minister and current chairman of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy in the European Parliament.

During the debate about it at the plenary session in the European Parliament, I told the Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič and the Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete that their proposal is – on a global scale – the most ambitious approach to the implementation of the Paris Accord from 2015.

It is difficult to decide whether this strategy will succeed. However, writing about success, it is worth emphasizing, I am thinking of achieving possible climate neutrality, without prejudice to our security and energy independence and the competitiveness of the European economy – primarily industry and small and medium-sized enterprises.

It seems that it will depend on three main factors

First of all – whether in full, and how quickly, we implement in the European Union – passed in the ending term of the EP – provisions. It’s about the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, reforming the EU electricity market towards a more competitive, stimulating cross-border trade in electricity – mainly from renewable energy sources (RES) and supporting the development of civic prosumer energy. Without this, it will be difficult to implement the objectives set for 2030 by the EU – 32 per cent share of renewable energy and increase by 32.5 per cent of energy efficiency. Their completion should mean a reduction in CO2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030 – a sine qua non condition if climate neutrality is seriously considered before 2050.

The implementation of the gas directive will be important for the transition to less-emission fuel, such as gas. It entered into force exactly yesterday, eventually covering the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany by EU law. As the rapporteur and chief negotiator of these provisions, I am not surprised that Gazprom has loudly protested against them for several weeks, even threatening to bring the case before the court.

Secondly – how much new technologies and innovations will help us. Henry Ford, a well-known American car maker, once said: “If I asked my clients what they want, they would agree: we want faster horses. So I did not ask them. ” This quote is a good metaphor of the type and scale of challenges facing the broadly understood EU energy sector today – from its production, through transmission to storage and use. And that is why the priority treatment of horizontal innovations in the field of energy was one of the key recommendations included in my EP’s report on accelerating the development of energy technologies.

And thirdly – perhaps the most important: how much of this energy transformation will be socially just. In particular, I am referring to mining regions in the EU, for which an ambitious climate policy is a special cost and challenge. In Poland, it is primarily the Silesian Voivodeship. One of the answers may be – proposed by the European Parliament on my initiative – a special Fund for Fair Energy Transition. This is to be at least PLN 20 billions of zloty in support for mining regions. Their residents must have a clear sense that the energy transformation of the European Union is done “with them” and “for them” and not “against them”; and that they are not left alone. We will succeed with them – or not at all.