No EU policy can be perfect – it will inevitably be a compromise between a good cause and a due cause. However, we are now at a critical turning point, as several pillars of former Barroso’s EU energy policy have already collapsed, prompting an update or an entire overhaul.
The discussion on whether the EU needs a new renewables target beyond 2020 is gaining traction. The proponents argue that a target for 2030 would give the visibility needed for long-term investments all along the value chain (e.g. into network and storage infrastructure). That is, without a firm political timetable for the roll-out of renewables, the cost of deployment might be much higher. The opponents of firm deployment targets argue that having such targets under an emission trading system is overly costly (e.g., Robert Stavins) and that artificially high demand is creating excess rents in those parts of the value chain where supply is slow to react.
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The loss of competitiveness because of elevated energy costs is concentrated in a limited number of sectors. The cost of subsidising energy-intensive companies might be greater than the benefits. Continue reading »
Following the vote in the European Parliament, the Commission will not be able to quickly implement “backloading”, the point of which is to send a very short-term signal to the market pending further structural reforms. There still remains the question of what actions can be taken to revitalize the CO2 allowances trading system. Continue reading »
Since the Copenhagen conference of December 2009, the actors involved in climate negotiations seem be engaged in a game of mistigri, in which everyone is in a hurry to pass on any card that exposes them to the slightest commitment. The overall result is that deadlines are being pushed back, and the prospect of an international agreement coming into force from 2020 now seems optimistic in the extreme. The economic crisis has accentuated this turning away from the climate issue, or at least its decline in policy makers’ scale of priorities. A curious semantic shift has accompanied this phenomenon: there is much less talk of global warming, while the media have turned their attention to the concept of energy transition. This shift is not innocuous, and may lead, if this novel concept is not defined more rigorously, to a justification of our collective resignation in the face of climate risk.
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The EU ETS is the main instrument of European climate policy, and many policymakers envisage it as a driving force of the EU’s transition to a low-carbon economy. By putting a price on emissions, the scheme is expected to encourage heavy polluters to develop new low-carbon technologies. At first glance it is encouraging to notice, then, that patenting for low-carbon technologies has surged in Europe since 2005. When analyzing new data we find compelling evidence that the EU ETS has indeed encouraged regulated companies to develop new low-carbon technologies, but this effect is concentrated among too few companies to account for the surge in low-carbon patenting.
This week, the European Climate Commissioner made a proposal to stabilise the European Union’s emission trading system – a market for greenhouse gas emission allowances that has been in place since 2005. Under the proposal, allowances worth six month of EU emissions (900 million tonnes) would be temporarily taken out of the trading system, and sold in 2019 and 2020 rather than 2013-2015.
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Biofuels are a key component of the EU strategy to improve the efficiency in transport, one of the sectors with a larger energy use and carbon emissions in Europe, and for which the European Commission has set very ambitious reduction objectives Continue reading »
Buildings account for 40% of the total energy consumption of the EU and they are one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions (36% of the EU total). In order to achieve the 2050 EU building sector target, the energy performance of existing buildings will need to be improved substantially.
As new technologies go, wind has enjoyed 3 decades of continuous innovation, performance and reliability improvements and falling costs – benefits of economies of scale, technological advancements and learning by doing. The law of diminishing marginal returns, however, appears to have gotten in the way of further cost reductions.