Long-term strategy: press conference by Maroš Šefčovič
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Under this mandate, we have focused primarily on what needs to be done for the clean energy transition between now and 2030. And by the end of it, we will have delivered on all our commitments.
The policies put in place so far will goa long way – even after 2030 – but they will only bring us to emission reductions of around 60% by 2050. This is not sufficient for the EU to contribute to the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals.
Today, we are therefore looking further ahead – towards 2050 and towards a climate neutral Europe – not only to contribute but to lead on the Paris’ goals.
Climate change is already affecting Europe. For instance, we had extreme heat waves in four of the last five years. Last year’s weather-related disasters cost us unprecedented EUR 283 billion in economic damages.
Status quo is not an option!
Today, we are taking a first serious step towards climate neutrality.
In fact, the European Union is the first major economy that is presenting its strategy for economic and societal transformation – involving all sectors – that could lead to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
We have identified a number of strategic building blocks that can pave the way towards a climate neutral economy – and Miguel will describe them in a greater detail.
You won’t be surprised that energy plays a central role, as it accounts for over 75% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.
For instance, by maximising the deployment of renewables – making them the backbone of our power system – over 80% of electricity will be coming from renewables by 2050.
This will pay off and bring down our fossil fuel imports from 55% to 20% – as a result, we will save EUR 2-3 trillion after 2030. Instead of paying third countries for energy that we only burn, we can invest into modern, cleaner industry that provide high quality local jobs.
We will be stepping up renovation of our buildings and heat them with renewable energy, instead of polluting fossil fuels.
The renewable electricity – in combination with European green batteries and alongside other alternative fuels – will also power our bikes, buses, cars or trains. This will bring healthier air and again investment into European industry.
Speaking of industry, we now know that industry can and is ready to decarbonise, too. This will require investment into more electrification, use of hydrogen, biomass and renewable synthetic fuels.
All of this will see the necessary infrastructure in place, for instance smart electricity and data grids, smart charging, including vehicle-to-grid technology.
And I’m particularly proud that social fairness in this strategy is not an afterthought but we will make sure that no one is left behind in the first place – as we are already doing with coal regions in transition.
Green jobs in the EU already amount to 4 million but for some sectors, the transition can be difficult and we will need to invest massively into upskilling.
The key to success it that all sectors pitch in, as we will be actively paving the way for this major modernisation of our economy – be it industry, transport or land and agriculture. But we also need innovation, finance, circular economy, trade.
It is under this Commission when we have learnt how to better integrate various policies into the Energy Union. And I reiterate that once and for all, we have to break walls among sectors during this transformation towards climate neutrality.
This will require significant additional investment. We estimate that we will need additional investments in the range of EUR 175 to 290 billion per year, if we want to achieve a net zero greenhouse gas economy.
But we will also be saving money on fossil fuel imports, energy efficiency, health expenditure from air pollution or the circular economy.
Moreover, we have already proven that it is possible to grow and cut emissions at the same time. From 1990 to 2017, energy use was reduced by almost 2%, greenhouse gas emissions by 22%, while our GDP grew by 58%.
We want to be and can be the global leader! The global economy is already transforming and having this strategy will help us reap the benefits of first mover.
The necessary investment will be too high for the public sector to provide alone. But we will make sure that the incentives are right and enable the private sector and the financial system to contribute.
We will therefore foster such investment, through clear, long-term signals, like this strategy.
So as you can see, we are providing a clear sense of direction. But at the same time, this is an opening salvo for a thorough debate across our societies because we need an early long-term planning.
In the run up to the Sibiu summit on the Future of Europe, all relevant Council formations should hold policy debates on ways to contribute to this vision.
But one thing is already clear – a planet with a climate that’s out of control would not be a safe and prosperous home. And therefore, we have to act!