The EU on the Road to a Sustainable Energy Future?
An Analysis of National Action Plans on the 2020 Targets of the EU
In the light of a climate change which is threatening the livelihood of mankind the EU took the decision to reduce the CO2 emissions and defined the so-called 2020 targets in 2009. The initiative aims at creating a more resource efficient Europe up to the year 2020 by decoupling economic growth from the use of resources. The EU wants to achieve this by increasing the use of renewable sources, modernising the transport sector and promoting energy efficiency. Thus, the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption in Europe shall be increased from 8.5% in 2005 to 20% in 2020.
To achieve this, the EU’s strategy defines legally binding targets for each member state, but it is up to the different member states to develop their national strategy in order to achieve these targets. As a result, 27 member states develop 27 different action plans and the possibilities which could arise from a pan-European approach – as explained, for example, in the study on a European Community for Renewable Energy (ERENE) – remain unconsidered.
Another downside of the initiative is the lack of targets beyond 2020. This is dangerous, because it is likely that the EU member states will focus on achieving its targets up to the year 2020, but will not pursue a long-term conversion of electricity generation out of renewable energies. Considering the long investment cycles in the energy market, today’s decisions determine the energy mix for the next decades, far beyond 2020.
Therefore, if the EU wants a complete transition to renewable energies in terms of energy supply – and this is the only adequate way to tackle climate change – it has to set the course now and cannot confine itself to achieving the 2020 targets. Do the action plans for the 2020 targets take the long-term conversion of electricity generation into consideration? Do they recognise the possibilities which can be derived from European cooperation in terms of this conversion of electricity generation?
The Green European Foundation in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany and Czech Republic, the Cogito Foundation in Sweden, Stichting Wetenschappelijk Bureau Groen Links in the Netherlands and Grüne Bildungswerkstatt in Austria will examine in a number of EU Member States to what extent the action plans outreach the year 2020 and in what way the possibilities of European cooperation are considered in these plans.
Links on the topic:
- EU information on policy to fight climate change:
EU action against climate change
The EU climate and energy package
- EU directive "on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources" (pdf)
- Video of the EU "20% renewable energy by 2020"
- National Action Plans of the member states (in their respective language)
- Euractiv: Summary of EU Climate and Energy policy and links to further documents and positions
- Comments from the Greens: EU 2020 Strategy: Commission presents myopic attempt at 2020 vision
Press Release Green MEPs Claude Turmes and Philippe Lamberts, March 3, 2010
- REPAP2020 project (Renewable Energy Policy Action Paving the Way for 2020)
with further evaluations of the NAPs among other things
- The European Environment Agency: Taking a closer look at Europe's renewable energy plans for 2020