Europe must show the way on climate action

By Kristian Ruby, Secretary General, EURELECTRIC, (pictured)
Summer 2017

Clouds are gathering on the international climate agenda.

Kristian Ruby, Secretary General, EURELECTRICPresident Trump has decided to pull out of the Paris agreement, but no matter the decisions of the US, Europe vows to keep fighting global warming.

The European electricity sector strongly supports an ambitious climate policy, both globally and in the EU.

Through EURELECTRIC, which represents more than 3500 companies across Europe, the sector already committed in 2009 to a fully CO2-neutral power supply by mid century.

Last year, the sector encouraged EU decision makers to accelerate CO2 reductions through a comprehensive reform of the EU ETS.

And last month we sent a very clear signal to the international markets: From 2020, no new coal power plants should be built in Europe.

The transformation of the electricity sector must go hand in hand with electrification of other economic sectors. In industry as well as heating, electricity can help reduce CO2 emissions.

And of course in the transport sector, where the shift from petrol to power gives a clear climate benefit already today.

Based on the EU average electricity mix, an electric car today only emits 50 grams per kilometer - a fraction of what petrol cars emit.

In the Clean Energy Package, which is currently being discussed in the European Parliament and the Council, there are a number of handles to ensure increased use of electricity in other sectors.

For instance proposals to ensure the necessary charging infrastructure for electric cars through minimum requirements for buildings relating to precabling and number of charging points.

These proposals currently face opposition in the Council of Ministers. Of course, they will require investments on the short run. But they are absolutely crucial when it comes to preparing our cities for a future where electric cars are the rule, not the exception. So it is important that we don’t drop the infrastructure investments on the basis of short-term economic arguments.

Europe must show the way on climate action


Infrastructure is key. But it will not do the trick alone. In addition to incentives to drive sales already today, there is a need for clear signals to automakers to speed up innovation.

EURELECTRIC advocates ambitious CO2 emission targets for cars, specific targets for zero emission vehicles as well as a service check of the emission test cycle, which currently does not account properly for the actual emissions of cars.

The debate on the transformation of the transport sector will be on the political agenda in Brussels in 2017, where the Commission plans two major transport initiatives.

EURELECTRIC will advocate an ambitious approach. In a time where the European project is facing criticism on many fronts, new steps to boost industrial innovation and climate action would be a powerful way to prove the value of our cooperation.