Commissioner Stavros Dimas: Renewables – a Ready to Go Technology to Reduce Greenhouse gas Emissions

December 9, 2005

Montreal, 7 December 2005

Renewables side-event co-organised with German Government
Montreal, 7 December 2005

Minister Gabriel,

Dear delegates,

Let me thank you all for joining us at this side-event on renewable energy. This gives us a good opportunity to discuss the progress we made in promoting renewables in the EU and the way forward towards more sustainable energy systems.

Renewable sources of energy are key instruments to win the battle against climate change. They equally harbour real potential for economic development, in particular for developing countries and regions that do not have ready access to energy supply.

These environmental and economic benefits are the driving forces for the European Union’s renewable energy policy.

Our targets are set. By 2010, the EU’s share of renewables in primary energy consumption should increase from the current 6% to 12%. For electricity, renewables should rise from the 14% we have now, to 21%.

This approach is starting to deliver results. Renewables represent one of the fastest growing sectors in the EU with an annual turnover of some 15 billion euros. Costs continue to drop significantly, making more renewable energy technologies affordable and competitive. In environmental terms, the rise of renewables will have cut the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 170 to 200 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2010.

But there are still many areas where we can make important progress. This morning, the Commission took another important step for renewable energy by adopting the EU Biomass Action Plan. This ambitious plan sets out measures to promote biomass in heating, electricity and transport. It also covers biomass supply, financing and research. The result should be a doubling of the use of biomass to about 150 million ton of oil equivalents in 2010.

Renewable energy needs a long-term and stable policy framework. Next year, Member States will discuss a new set of targets for 2020. The European Parliament has already called for a 25% renewables target of total energy consumption for the EU by 2020. This sounds ambitious, but I consider it fully realistic and it is clearly this order of magnitude that the EU should be considering.

We should also look beyond our borders. Renewable energy should be an integral element of our international collaboration. There are several instruments at our disposal.

The first, notable example is the European Emissions Trading Scheme. Member States have already budgeted an estimated 2.7 billion euros to buy emission credits including through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. This is a significant amount that could provide a real incentive for deploying and developing renewable energy technologies in developing countries.

Another example is the European Union Energy Initiative, which puts a major focus on renewables. It is now backed up with a 220 million euro Energy Facility, which will be available from 2006. This is another catalyst for concrete progress in developing countries and for the poor in particular.

As a last example of what could be a lengthy list, there is the 88 country strong Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition. This coalition is to foster international co-operation agreements to move renewables forward.

A few weeks ago, the International Renewable Energy Conference in Beijing put an end to the myth that renewable energy are a luxury that only the developed countries can afford. Developing countries that suffer most from high oil prices now see it as an opportunity they should not miss.

Now is the time to build a strong international framework for renewables to help achieve a global breakthrough.

Next year and in 2007, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development – CSD – will focus on energy. This is an important opportunity – we must seize it.

To prepare for that process, the JREC Ministerial Meeting to be held in Dubai in February 2006 will produce a joint statement to the CSD which captures the progress made by members and outlines the main deliverables we expect by 2007.

Finally, we remain firmly committed to implement the JREC Patient Capital Initiative by mid 2007. This innovative public/private mechanism will bridge financing gaps for renewable energy business developers and SMEs. A first closure of around 100 million euros by should be feasible.

Let this be another proof of the EU’s commitment to strengthen the global framework for renewable energy.

Thank you.

Item source: SPEECH/05/771 Date: 08/12/2005

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