The energy package has huge potential to help all citizens to gain access to green energy... provided that we take the right decisions
Almost one year ago, the European Commission presented its “clean energy for all Europeans” package. These proposals - which cover energy efficiency, renewable energy, electricity market design, security of supply and governance for energy and climate laws - are meant to foster the energy transition by boosting innovation in clean energy sectors and ensuring that all Europeans reap the benefits of the Energy Union.
The Greens/EFA group wants to make sure that citizens are truly put centre stage, so that “clean energy for all Europeans” does not remain a slogan but materialises in access to sustainable energy. This will only be possible if the EU really puts its citizens at the core of its energy projects. What should matter the most is their comfort, health, security, jobs, participation and well-being. We’ve had enough of high and confusing energy bills and old-fashioned products that only serves the interests of those who make them! Let’s move to the 21st century (it’s about time!) where moving around one’s city should be pleasant, producing and consuming electricity affordable and safe, where buildings are healthy and comfortable, where active participation and creativity is valued and where youngsters could enjoy a job market that is both attractive and rewarding. European citizens need to be offered a new perspective and reason to regain trust in the European project. The energy union has the potential to develop all of this if the right decisions are made, citizens are really empowered and change is made possible through inclusive dialogue and ambitious roadmaps.
We need to show much more ambition if European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s desire to make Europe’s Energy Union the world Number 1 in renewable energies is to become a reality. If the energy transition is really a priority for Europe we should then come with a real strategy that is both methodological and honest.
· Citizens should be enabled and encouraged to produce and consume their own energy, participate in energy cooperatives and gain money by shifting their energy demand through so-called ‘demand response’ by creating a level playing field and removing administrative barriers to do so.
· Electricity produced from renewable energy must keep its priority access and dispatch to the electricity grid and, when it cannot be used - such as in times of sufficient electricity supply - they must be fully compensated.
· Special programmes and support have to be dedicated to citizens in energy poverty, so that they can fully embrace the energy transition and have access to affordable sustainable energy and high quality housing.
· Assumptions on future prices and shares of renewable technologies must be realistic and further innovation needs to be spurred in components production, batteries, E-mobility and new services to enable the flourishing of the sector in Europe and beyond and to create sustainable jobs within the EU.
One cannot dream of a clean Europe if at the same time oil, gas and nuclear companies continue to be supported via subsidies or via a market design that favours their operations over citizen energy, energy efficiency or renewable energy production!
The Greens have worked on a long-term vision with clear objectives. The success of the project requires the participation of all citizens and the involvement of key actors such as the regions, communities and energy cooperatives. This is also clearly a question of democracy: people must be free to decide what type of energy they want to consume, from where and how, and also be able to produce their own. But they should also be supported in this transition: there should be financial support and right incentives to the right solutions and initiatives across the energy, buildings and transport sectors. An enabling framework has to be created that considers energy objectives and co-benefits also in urban planning, with incentives for energy efficiency and energy savings. There must also be stronger commitment from the Member States to make the changes take place in favour of their citizens and to support their participation across borders. Here - as for any decision that impacts our environment and health - there is really an added value for the decisions to be taken at EU level.
It is time to boost the systems and products that make sense, that answer the concrete needs of today and that do not further harm our planet! Continuing to support the industries and initiatives that pollute and damage our health and well-being instead of supporting those which make sense and creating the incentives to help the different sectors to get cleaner is not only senseless, it is dangerous and totally irresponsible. The old Europe we live in should learn from its past experience and mistakes in order to inspire and show that embracing the future while protecting our planet is possible. Because it really is.
Ø The Greens’ energy vision
Ø Past Greens/EFA blog on the package
Ø Our podcast on 'how could Europe make our home a better place'
Ø Our arguments on why nuclear is not the right sector to invest in