EU 2030 targets: why COP21 means less can be more…

Please see at this link our brochure arguing for a more realistic EU climate policy that can deliver a better environment, growth and jobs. Our COP21 report to EURACOAL members has been quoted by some media organisations. It was a mistake to share it. For those interested, the report is available here.

It is not easy to explain why “less can be more”. However, in the case of EU climate and energy policy, the truth is that a less ambitious policy – some might say a more realistic policy – would deliver greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions at a much lower cost than a policy which favours targets that are unaffordable and therefore unrealistic.

It has now become obvious that the fast expansion of solar PV in Germany from 2009 to 2013 gave the illusion of a prosperous solar industry, an illusion that has since faded. The party is over and now there is a hangover: many companies have gone bankrupt and jobs have been lost. The solar boom leaves a debt to be paid by German consumers over the next 20 years of €100 to €200 billion. Given that the prices for PV installations have fallen in recent years, it seems that less ambition would have delivered more. Technologies and the timing of their introduction are key questions. Economics is perhaps the single most important driver in today’s world. People generally want as much as possible for their money (“more for less”) and the control of GHG emissions should not be seen as being any different.

This paper explores why a more progressive policy on power plant modernisation and renewal could deliver emission reductions at a lower cost to society, demonstrate global leadership and, crucially, avoid the risk of an over-dependence on imported natural gas which appears to be the default option for future power generation in many Member States without providing a reliable solution.