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.
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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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?
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?
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?
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.
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’.
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.
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.
Stephanie Pfeifer has led the IIGCC for almost two decades, managing its expansion into a pan-European investor group. Pfeifer sits on the Steering Committees of Climate Action 100+ and the Investor Agenda, two of several initiatives co-funded by the IIGCC. Other initiatives supervised by the Group include the foundations of the Paris Aligned Asset Owners and the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative. Prior to her role at IIGCC, Pfeifer worked in investment banking, including as a senior economist at Morgan Grenfell and vice president at Deutsche Bank in London.
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.
- By Jamie Shea
- Area of Expertise
- By Jean-Luc Lemercier
- Policy Briefing
- Area of Expertise
- Digital & Data Governance