If the European Union wants to achieve its target of being carbon-neutral by 2050, it will need to transition away from fossil fuels in a way that is fair and just. What are some of the policies that the European Union should be adopting to make sure the energy transition is fair and doesn’t push more people into energy poverty? Should low-income families be given energy-saving technologies for free? What level of support is fair if we are asking households to significantly change their energy consumption and mobility habits? Presented as part of the #EUClimatePact, this debate will bring citizens’ concerns to a senior EU policymaker for a 30-minute moderated discussion on how to make the energy transition fair.
We have started on the path towards a net-zero world, with 61% of governments and about a fifth of global corporates having pledged to reach the goal by 2050, but it is not enough. To meet our targets, we need to move much faster.
As the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow approaches, Friends of Europe’s 2021 Climate and Energy Summit heard that net zero has become a mainstream idea over the last 12 months, with global opinion notably influenced by recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as a string of extreme weather events around the globe.
“It does seem world leaders are listening to the science and engaging to take meaningful action,” Ko Barrett, Vice Chair of the IPCC, told the summit. “There is momentum and a chorus of voices to hold temperature rises to 1.5°C, which is more stringent than the commitments made in Paris.”
The debate ranged from from how to finance the transition to how the EU plans mobilise a green recovery from the Covid pandemic to expectations for COP26.
Yet there is still uncertainty about how quickly the transition is going to happen, not least because the disruption to the global economy caused by Covid, including recent gas price rises, has created a massive threat to the momentum to cut emissions.
That means that social justice should be at the heart of the talks in Glasgow, where rich countries should ensure they provide the climate finance that the developing world needs, said Eamon Ryan, Irish Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport.
Social justice and solidarity are also crucial closer to home, added Mauro Petriccione, European Commission Director General for Climate Action. “If we don’t have a policy for decarbonising the economy that is also a policy for prosperity, we will fail,” he stressed.
Countries need to be more ambitious, and that higher level of ambition must be underpinned by concrete sector-based initiatives, argued Karsten Sach, Director General for Climate Policy at the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
“We need more clarity on what the targets mean, and we need to design trajectories for each country and each company,” he said. “Companies need clear signals.” This call was echoed by Claire Waysand, Executive Vice President, Corporate Secretariat, Strategy, Research & Innovation and Communication at ENGIE and Alexandre Marty, Head of Climate and Natural Resources at EDF.
Governments have a key role to play in laying down clear timetables, as we have seen for coal and internal combustion engine cars, Emelia Holdaway, Policy Programme Director at Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), told the summit.
Government and company net-zero targets must be science-based to be credible, said Eric Usher, Head of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, and investors must not only put money into low-carbon companies but move it away from the worst polluters. Nancy Saich, Chief Climate Change Expert at the European Investment Bank, agreed and said that “one of the things we’re doing is using the EU Taxonomy already this year for our tracking of green finance.”
Combining digitisation with decarbonising will be key to introducing huge efficiencies, and also align political and financial efforts so they are pulling in the right direction, but it is not the only answer. Lubomila Jordanova, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Plan A, highlighted the importance of inviting start-ups and innovators to the table. Kirsten Dunlop, Chief Executive Officer of EIT Climate-KIC said that “The digital transformation is not an end in itself. It serves a purpose. If its purpose is to create a sustainable world, that creates a narrative for taking action together.” Throughout the event, participants heard how they could take climate action on the different topics of the day through the European Climate Pact.
Every year, our Climate and Energy Summit brings together an exciting mix of high-level speakers and several hundred participants – including policymakers, academics, business leaders, civil society representatives and members of the international press from Europe and beyond – to address the climate emergency, energy innovations and the role Europe can play in advancing climate action.
Taking place ahead of the eagerly anticipated COP26 in Glasgow and after the European Commission publishes the Fit for 55 Package, speakers and participants will explore where investments are most urgent and what more can be done to mobilise EU citizens. The summit will assess whether the EU remains the global frontrunner in climate action and where digital innovations can help speed up the decarbonisation of society.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Zbynek Burival/Unsplash
In the beginning of the year, the EU’s answer to the economic impact of COVID-19 came into force. A total of €1.8tn will help rebuild Europe over the next years. To respond to the EU’s climate ambitions, a minimum of 30% of expenditure needs to be geared towards fighting climate change – but public money alone won’t cut it. To implement the Paris Agreement, Europe needs between €175bn to €290bn in extra investment per year over the next decades.
The transition to a climate-neutral Europe requires serious efforts from the private sector. Many companies are stepping up to the plate and redirecting capital towards sustainable investments. By way of its EU Taxonomy – a classification system establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities – the EU hopes to shift private investments. As EU countries implement their recovery plans and sustainable finance takes hold in the private sector, the question remains whether this constitutes the rapid shift Europe needs to green its economy.
- To what degree are national recovery plans contributing to the European Green Deal?
- What are the barriers to greater investment in proven low-cost renewables, such as solar panels and wind energy?
- Are investors actively promoting the energy transition? What impact can they have?
Policy Programme Director at the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC)
Head of Climate and Natural Resources at EDF
Chief Climate Change Expert at the European Investment Bank (EIB)
Head of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)
Deputy Director-General for Energy at the European Commission
From social interactions to work and consumption habits, digital technologies have changed our lives profoundly. Now that the world seeks to halt global warming, the time has come for digital pioneers to use their innovative power towards advancing the energy transition. Digitalisation has the capacity to make energy systems more efficient, resilient and sustainable.
Strong government and industry efforts on energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy will be of the essence if the EU is to reduce its emissions by at least 55% by 2030. While solar is considered to be the cheapest electricity in history, the EU needs to pick up the pace on energy savings. As people and industry alike outfit homes and buildings to produce renewable energy and charge EVs, digital innovations for intelligent energy management abound.
- How will energy efficiency contribute to the EU’s aim to reduce its emissions by at least 55% by 2030?
- Big tech companies have important experience and skills that should be used to bolster the energy transition. How can we build on their expertise?
- Improving energy efficiency remains a stumbling block. Should policymakers focus more on digital innovations?
Pilar del Castillo Vera
Member of the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)
Chief Executive Officer at EIT Climate-KIC
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Plan A
The two biggest greenhouse gas emitters are shifting course on climate action: President Xi Jinping has set his sights on a carbon-neutral China by 2060 and the US is back in the Paris Agreement, with President Joe Biden aiming to reduce emissions by 50 to 52% this decade. As the EU and the US recalibrate their relations, questions on climate cooperation and industry competitiveness will be top of the agenda.
While COVID-19 brought back blue skies, global emissions are set to jump by the second highest rate in history this year – a stark warning that the energy transition needs to pick up speed. Industry also has a big role to play. Major companies are setting their own net-zero targets and aligning their strategies with the Paris Agreement, but competition at the international stage remains top of the agenda. Industry is asking for decisive action from governments to underpin their climate commitments. Balancing climate cooperation while ensuring the competitiveness of its industries will be the next frontier for the EU.
- Will a change in global climate leadership bolster action at COP26?
- Should policymakers protect the EU’s heavy industry from competition outside the bloc?
- What should Europe do to remain the frontrunner in green innovation?
Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Senior Adviser for Climate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
French Ambassador for Climate Change Negotiations, Renewable Energies and Climate Risk Prevention
Director-General at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action
Irish Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport
Director General for Climate Policy at the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
Executive Vice President, Corporate Secretariat, Strategy, Research & Innovation and Communication at ENGIE
Ko Barrett is widely recognised as an expert on climate policy, particularly on issues related to climate impacts and strategies to help society adapt to a changing world. Barrett was one of the first women elected to serve as a Vice-Chair of the IPCC. She is also the Senior Advisor for Climate at NOAA, where she previously served as the NOAA deputy assistant administrator for research, supervising operations and administration of the organisation’s research enterprise. For over 15 years, she has represented the United States on delegations charged with negotiating and adopting scientific assessments undertaken by the IPCC.
Stéphane Crouzat has extensive experience in diplomacy. Before taking up his current position, he was the French ambassador to Ireland and previously held posts as head of the Cooperation and Cultural Section at the French Embassy in Warsaw and spokesperson at the Permanent Representation of France to the United Nations in New York. Crouzat also served as diplomatic advisor to Ségolène Royal, the former French minister of environment, energy and the seas, and as deputy director for Central Eastern and Baltic Europe in the European Union Directorate of the French government.
In the European Parliament, Pilar del Castillo Vera co-chairs the Artificial Intelligence and Digital Intergroup and serves as a member of the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age. She has been the European Parliament’s rapporteur on a number of significant files – ranging from the Telecoms Single Market Regulation to the report on a Cloud Computing Strategy for Europe. Prior to being elected to the European Parliament, she was the Spanish minister of education and culture. Del Castillo is also the Chair of the European Internet Forum and Vice President of the European Energy Forum.
Kirsten Dunlop’s career spans academia, consulting, banking, insurance, strategy, design, innovation and leadership. She is committed to shaping and placing innovation to catalyse profound systemic change and is honoured to work with Climate-KIC’s world-class network of partners to support climate innovation across Europe and beyond. Prior to roles at Second Road, KPMG and Suncorp in Australia, Dunlop worked in the UK and Italy for 15 years. In Italy, she led the Generali Group Innovation Academy for Assicurazioni Generali, pioneering proprietary thinking in the areas of strategic risk management, strategic innovation, strategic leadership development and cultural change. Her publications include a case study in ‘The Routledge Companion to Strategic Risk Management’.
Emelia Holdaway is the Policy Programme Director at the IIGCC, where she advocates for sustainable finance and real economy policies that can accelerate climate investment at the global and EU levels. She also manages the policy work of The Investor Agenda, a common leadership agenda on the climate crisis. Holdaway has 25 years of experience in sustainability and climate change, including supporting the preparation of over 15 countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
Lubomila Jordanova is the Co-Founder and CEO of Plan A, a Berlin-based start-up developing an end-to-end platform that enables companies to measure, monitor and reduce their environmental footprint and improve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. She is also the Co-Founder of the Greentech Alliance, a community of more than 500 start-ups which are connected with over 350 advisors, who offer advice and feedback across various areas of expertise, from venture capital, to media and business. She has previously worked in investment banking, venture capital and fintech in Asia and Europe. Jordanova was recently announced as Marshall Fund Fellow for 2021 and 100 Top Women in Germany 2020.
Alexandre Marty has been working on corporate responsibility, climate change policy and climate finance for more than 20 years. Earlier this year, he joined EDF’s Sustainable Development Division to spearhead the company’s work on climate and natural resources. Prior to his current role, he participated in the development of EDF Trading’s carbon and environmental products desk, managed EDF’s sustainable finance programme as part of the Group’s Investors and Markets Department and served as EDF Hydro’s environment and society (E&S) director. Marty started his career as a consultant for large international firms.
Mauro Petriccione worked extensively on EU trade policy before joining the Directorate-General for Climate Action, covering a wide range of activities and negotiations, from trade and standards, to defence, investment, competition and dispute settlement, as well as relations with member states and European institutions. He was the deputy director-general for trade, responsible for trade relations with Asia, Latin America and countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Petriccione also served as chief negotiator for the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.
Eamon Ryan is dedicated to ensuring that Ireland plays its part in the global fight against climate change by introducing climate policies that are fair, just, improve people’s quality of life and safeguard our future. Ryan is the leader of the Green Party and began his political career as a Dublin city councillor. He was the founding chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign. Ryan previously served as minister for communications, energy and natural resources and has worked for Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G).
Karsten Sach is the Director General of the International and European Policy, Climate Policy Unit at the German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. He has a long track record in European and international policy and has acted as the German chief negotiator at the UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties for more than 20 years. Sach is the former chairman of the European Environment Agency’s Management Board and participated in the foundation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Before joining the ministry, Sach served at the Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU and taught environmental and economic law.
25 years ago, Nancy Saich became involved in discussions in the maritime engineering industry on the challenges of incorporating climate change impacts into design guidance. This was the beginning of her close interest in climate change. Saich is one of the longest standing members of the European Investment Bank’s Environmental Assessment Group and a founding member of the Bank’s Inter-Directorate Climate Working Group. In her current role, Saich is responsible for leading the work on Paris Alignment with other multilateral development banks, climate finance definitions and impact reporting. Most recently, Saich was a member of the EU’s Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, and has now joined the EU Platform for Sustainable Finance as rapporteur for the “harmful and neutral” taxonomy group.
Eric Usher heads UNEP FI, a global partnership connecting the UN with a global group of banks, insurers and investors working to develop sustainable finance and responsible investment agendas. In this capacity, he has focused on accelerating the deep integration of sustainability risks into financial practice, including addressing climate change, natural capital loss and human rights abuses, as well as building out the frameworks for positive impact finance needed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to leading UNEP FI, Usher has over 20 years of experience in the low carbon sectors, spanning technology commercialisation in Canada, solar rural electrification in Morocco and financial sector development across emerging markets. Usher has also worked on the establishment of the Green Climate Fund.
Claire Waysand is an expert on European and international economic issues and maintains a strong commitment to carbon neutrality and the development of renewable hydrogen solutions. Prior to her current role as Secretary General and Executive Vice President at ENGIE, Waysand has held several positions within the organization, including corporate secretary and acting chief executive officer. Waysand previously served the French government as the deputy director general of the Treasury and chief of staff of the Minister of Finance. She has also worked at the European level as a member of the European Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) and as the former director of the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Building on her decades-long experience in energy policy, Mechthild Wörsdörfer is in charge of the European Commission’s work on the coordination of the just and green energy transition. Before taking up her current position, she worked as the director for sustainability, technology and outlooks at the International Energy Agency. Prior to that, Wörsdörfer worked on a wide range of energy files at the European Commission, from renewables, energy efficiency and innovation to the 2030 Energy and Climate Framework. She previously served in the cabinet of Erkki Liikanen, during his term as European Commissioner for Enterprise Policy and Information Society.
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