Opening speech by MEP Jeppe Kofod,
Vice-President of Eufores at #IPM16 6th of October 2016
Your excellences, honoured colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me – on behalf of Eufores - to bid you all - a very warm welcome to our 16th Interparliamentary Meeting on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
I am, of course, especially happy to be able to bid you welcome here in Copenhagen.
Not only is it my own city, but it is also a city at the forefront of our green, sustainable revolution. By 2025, Copenhagen has pledged to be carbon neutral.
Thereby making Copenhagen, the first carbon neutral capital in the world.
A fitting host city for our conference, I would say.
I mention this, not only to brag – but also to highlight a shared strength between Eufores and the Copenhagen Climate plan. We both approach our shared energy and climate challenges, holistically. Starting with ambitious goals, we ensure practical solutions that can be seen and felt.
The unique strength of the Eufores Interparliamentary Meetings is that – between us – we represent the full spectrum of energy sourcing, energy policy, energy distribution and energy consumption.
We have with us regional, national and European parliamentarians, the Commission, national authorities, academia, private enterprise and consumer representatives.
Let us make sure, that we use this forum – this opportunity – to listen to and learn from each other. All too often, when talk turns to energy and climate policy – focus shifts to the issues that divides us rather than unites us.
This goes doubly so for the issue of energy supply.
For centuries, energy sources have pitted nations against each other.
Fighting for access to the precious resources any developed nation needs to – quite literally – fuel its economy, have driven nations into countless internal and external conflicts.
Regrettably, this age-old tale has yet to be relegated to the history books.
When a resource is finite – as all fossil fuels are – sourcing them naturally becomes a continuous matter for concern.
For Europe, energy sourcing is – and should be – serious cause for concern.
As a Union we import more than 50 % of our energy. At a cost of more than 1 billion Euros every single day.
Money that flows out of Europe – in exchange for oil, and gas-flows into Europe.
In short: We are depositing our energy security in the hands of third countries – and we are paying a high price for it.
The European Energy Union represents a radical departure from the traditional competitive approach to energy policy.
Instead of fighting over scarce resources, the nations of the European Union have committed themselves to cooperating. Cooperating in order to achieve the goals of the European Energy Union:
To secure a ready, steady and affordable supply of energy. To combat climate change through emissions’ reductions, energy efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources, and to spur innovation and science-led growth in Europe.
By integrating Europe’s energy infrastructure, we can do away with energy islands in Europe. We can lower energy prices for consumers and we can ensure security of supply, by leaning on our European neighbours, in times of peak consumption or when local or national generation issues occur.
By switching from finite fossil fuels to Renewable Energy Sources, we ensure that the energy we use today, does not have to be paid for by the next generation, in terms of climate change and environmental damage.
By being ambitious and coherent in our goals and requirements, we create markets for new green tech solutions. Thereby ensuring, that Europe becomes the innovation leader in the global competition.
If we make sure that Europe is the primary taker – the primary market – of energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reduction products and technology –
We will also ensure a vibrant and vital home market for European industry.
Ensuring that our new Energy Union for Europe achieves these important goals are the very reason why, we are assembled here today.
To debate the way forward, our goals, ambitions and the practical implementation of the Energy Union.
In short: to ensure that our Energy Union is given direction and purpose.
Your excellences, honoured members of parliament, ladies and gentlemen, as Vice-President of Eufores, I would propose that we go even further than the – admittedly – already lofty ambitions of the European Commission. Let us strive to create – not only – an Energy Union for Europe.
But let us create a Climate and Energy Union for Europe.
Let us ensure that the policies we create, the monies we invest and the projects we further, all serve the same purpose: Weaning Europe off of fossil fuels and creating stable market conditions for Renewable Energy Sources and Energy Efficiency projects.
With the European Parliament’s ratification of the Paris COP21-agreement – which happened only just this Tuesday, we have finally, formally, committed ourselves to global climate action.
But as you well know, the practical implementation – the how’s and when’s – is still to be decided upon.
Practical action will come through – for example - revisions of the ETS, the Energy Efficiency Directive, and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. These are files that we already are - or soon will be – dealing with in the European Parliament.
Now, whilst we all know the direction Europe has to move towards, designing the energy policies that will pave the way, requires practical solutions that can only be developed through cooperation.
Allow me just one practical example:
If we manage to fully develop the energy potential of the EU’s Northern Seas, we could supply a full 8 % of the EU’s electricity needs, purely from off-shore wind and other Renewable Energy Sources in the Northern Seas.
8 % - just in the North Sea.
Now, the interesting point about this particular case is that much of the energy potential doesn’t come from what would strictly be considered energy policy.
The real benefits are unlocked through cooperation.
Through making sure that common standards, health and safety requirements and so on, are developed. Through making sure that tenders for new wind farms are timed not to coincide with one another. Resulting in both a more stable line of orders for manufacturers, service contractors etc. and also driving down costs for deployment and energy production.
These are the purely practical concerns that we have to become better at cooperating on. And if we do that – again speaking simply in terms of the Northern Seas – we could save somewhere between 5-13 billion Euros by 2030 – per year.
It goes without saying, that if we were to unlock the true energy potential of all the EU’s regions, enormous savings could be realised, to the benefit of the European economy, jobs, industry and consumers.
That is also the reason why, we have set aside time for in-depth workshop discussions on regional cooperation in Europe.
Focusing on the Baltic Sea, South-East Europe, Central and West Europe as well as the North Sea. By working together and pooling our resources and infrastructure – we can bring prices down, and supply up.
We can ensure sustainable economic growth, millions of European jobs, lower energy prices and increased supply security.
According to the Commission, renewable energy deployment alone, could generate as much as 2,3 million jobs by 2020.
In short, there is ample reason for optimism and ambition!
However, as a Member of the European Parliament, I would also offer my gravest caution to the decision-makers here assembled.
If the Energy Union is to be a success – all five of its pillars – Security of supply, Integrated energy markets, Energy efficiency, Climate action and Research & innovation, must be strengthened considerably in Europe.
And we must not let concerns over security of supply or price dominate neither our discussions or our actions.
At present, the EU as a whole, and a number of Baltic Sea-states in particular, are faced with a difficult decision.
With plans well under way for a doubling of current capacity in the Nord Stream-pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany, decision time is fast approaching on whether or not to grant permission, for the project to go ahead.
I would say this on the matter:
Approving the proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline will achieve none of our Energy Union policy goals in practice. To the contrary, it will weaken both the Energy Union and the European Union as a whole.
Further increasing our dependency on fossil fuels – no matter their origin, clearly runs counter to both our Climate and Energy goals and obligations.
But when we – at the same time – increase European dependency on a single supplier, and effectively afford Russia the opportunity to – quite literally - leave our European neighbours in the cold.
Then we abandon – not only the policy objectives stated before, of securing supply, reducing emissions and bolstering investment in Renewable Energy Sources.
We also revert to the energy policy approach of yester-year.
By effectively threatening our European neighbours with energy-isolation in order to satisfy, our own energy needs.
That is not the direction our Energy Union should move in, I would say.
I mention Nord Stream 2, as a practical example of one of the many foreign policy issues to be dealt with, in relation to the Energy Union.
A well-functioning European Energy Union will have effects far beyond Europe’s own borders.
That is also the reason why, for this conference, we have a distinct foreign policy theme.
Too often, the debate on the foreign and security policy implications of the Energy Union, centres on the issue of diversity of supply and security of external supply.
With more than 90 % of our crude oil and around 66 % of our natural gas coming from countries outside the EU, it is easy to understand the urge to secure ever more supply lines – be it through pipelines or LNG.
But in our quest to seek more and stronger external energy suppliers, we must not risk failing to see, the enormous potential for domestic supply and the advantages of domestic Renewable energy production. But I fear we might be.
Whilst Europe has for many years been the clear front runner in renewable energy investments, we have started to slip dramatically behind.
Las year, China alone invested some 102 billion Dollars in renewables – as opposed to only 48 billion in Europe.
In percentages, European investments fell by 21 % whilst for instance US investments grew by 17 %. Bringing the US total investment fairly close to the European figure, with some 44 billion US Dollars invested in renewables in the US last year.
At the moment, Europe is not “number one in renewables”, as was proclaimed a few years ago. China – arguably – is.
We are already seeing the first effects of this. With China taking a dominating position in solar through large investments in photovoltaic deployment.
There’s a common phrase in American politics, which I think we could learn from:
You have to be strong at home, to be strong abroad.
This also applies to our Energy Union.
We have to turn the tide of diminishing EU investments in renewables. We have to ensure that Europe truly becomes the world number one in renewables.
Through ambitious goals, concrete projects and increased regional cooperation.
This is the only way we stop being reliant on for instance Russia and the Middle East to supply 53 % of our energy needs.
This is the only way we can stop sending more than 400 billion Euros a year out of our economies.
That is the only way to ensure that the Energy Union becomes not only a Climate and Energy Union, but in practices also a Climate, Security and Energy Union.
In the coming days we will hear a range of opinions and views on this and many other related topics.
I look forward to sharing in the debate and to share the insights that we each have working with European energy policy, from each our respective vantage points.
Be it from the European Commission, National Parliaments, Academia, Public Administration, The European Parliament etc.
I am sure that many – as yet under-debated possibilities and difficulties relating to our coming Energy Union, will come to light.
Building on the knowledge, experience and expertise of each other, I am confident, that we can also arrive at a number of solutions to the previously stated difficulties.
With these words, it is my honour to bid you all a very heartfelt welcome to the 16th Interparliamentary Meeting of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources.