Environment and Climate Change Network: For an ambitious Energy Union that guarantees affordable prices and creates jobs

Environment and Climate Change Network: For an ambitious Energy Union that guarantees affordable prices and creates jobs

This was the conclusion of the PES Environment and Climate Change Network, which met in Brussels today (30 May 2017).

The PES is also determined to breathe life into the international Paris climate agreement, despite the United States’ hesitation over supporting this accord unequivocally.

Representatives of PES member parties, MEPs, trade unions and civil society discussed the Clean Energy Package, just transition strategies for carbon-intensive industrial regions, and the future of European and international climate and energy policies under the Trump administration and Brexit.

After discussion with Maros Sefcovic, Commission Vice-President for Energy Union, and S&D Vice-President Kathleen van Brempt, the network developed concrete proposals to ensure that the decarbonisation of the economy does not happen at the expense of communities and workers in carbon-intensive industrial regions.

Jo Leinen MEP (SPD, Germany), chairman of the PES Environment and Climate Change Network, said:

“An ambitious 2030 EU climate and energy framework is our chance to be an international climate front-runner. We can be a role model that shows that climate protection and economic development are not mutually exclusive, but can be mutually beneficial. In this regard I highly welcome Commission Vice-President Sefcovic’s announcement to develop a specific initiative to support the just transition of high-carbon industrial regions to a greener future. Today, the network gave some recommendations how to support those regions, by strategic planning, involvement of social partners, strengthening of social protection nets and active labour market policies, local business development and the use of existing EU funds, but also the creation of new funds, for instance a Green Transition Fund in the framework of the European Emissions Trading System. Adding a social dimension to the Energy Union is of utmost importance to create a European energy market that works for the people. In this respect, I am also glad to see that Commission Vice-President Sefcovic integrated many of the proposals to fight energy poverty that the PES Environment and Climate Change Network made last year.”

Following the latest proposals by the European Commission, a central part of the discussion was dedicated to the “Clean Energy Package”.

Mr. Leinen said:

“The future of our energy mix until 2030 is currently discussed in the EU institutions. It is good that the Commission shows more ambition than the European Council’s guidelines for the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets. We have to go beyond business-as-usual ambition. And we need mechanisms to really implement and enforce our targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to increase energy efficiency and the share of renewable energies for the decarbonisation of our economies by 2050.”

Addressing concerns that the United States could withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Mr. Leinen said: 

“We do not question the Paris Agreement. It will trigger the biggest investment in clean technologies the world has ever seen. The latest international climate conferences witnessed great determination of the world community to keep the Paris Agreement alive. We will continue to cooperate with other states within the fora of the United Nations to implement the Paris Agreement. I count on the UK to remain a reliable and close ally to the EU in international climate diplomacy.”