Achieving Ambitious EU Climate Targets Requires All Energy Sources Onboard

The EU is committed to climate neutrality by 2050, and the Commission has proposed raising the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target from 40% to 55%. Achieving ambitious climate targets means that EU legislation must consistently and primarily serve the emission reduction target. The Commission’s proposal to tighten the emissions target and the associated communication with impact assessment is on the right track in this regard.

However, there are currently a great number of initiatives, which pose a risk of creating unnecessary dividing lines between different carbon reduction technologies. This uncertainty is growing, although policy makers should create predictability, long term vision and policy making should reward for emission reduction. For example, nuclear and hydropower as well as bioenergy are discriminated against in many debates and initiatives, and often presented as transitional activities. The role of gaseous fuels in the energy system seems to be politicized and categorizing hydrogen has proven to be a difficult task.

Many technologies and their applications are still in the research, development, and demonstration phase. In this phase, policy makers should support and speed up the R&D and demonstration.

In order to achieve the much-needed change in an economically sustainable and cost-effective way, policy makers need to shift their focus back to the emission reduction target itself and guarantee well-functioning carbon and energy markets. Climate target should be the priority, rather than discussing individual options or making technology choices where some get to play a role in the climate-neutral society, and some are left out.

An economically sustainable transition can be achieved when emissions are priced in the market for companies, and these become part of companies’ risks, profitability, and strategies. Emission pricing in the market should be the priority and be respected in the upcoming legislation. Also, the more cost-effective the transition is, the easier it becomes to make it also fair for all citizens.

The transition must be fair and socially sustainable. Creating a sustainable transition will need additional and redistribution of funding in all scenarios. It is important to ensure cost-efficiency of the emission reductions to limit needed additional money as low as possible. In addition, redistribution of funding and social compensation should serve the transition. This can be done, for example, by helping individuals to move from fossil fuels to more sustainable solutions and improving energy efficiency.

To ensure the ecological sustainability of the transition, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There already exists a good amount of regulation in the EU to ensure ecological sustainability. The existing regulation has evolved steadily throughout history and will certainly continue to address new sustainability issues.

Antti Kohopää,

Head of EU Affairs, Finnish Energy

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