Let’s not walk away from an energy transition, say Green MEPs

European nations are leading the way when it comes to making the transition to a renewable energy future, and EU laws can best drive such a transition, say Green MEPs.

The UK’s three Green MEPs, Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato and Keith Taylor, point to examples in the EU where an energy transition is well under way and how EU laws and targets are helping push the transformation. In particular the Renewable Energy Directive that has set a binding target of 20% of final energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Examples this month include Portugal, where the country ran for four days on renewable energy alone and Germany which achieved a 95% share of renewable energy on one day, breaking their previous record of 70-80% last year. Meanwhile Sweden is rapidly moving towards phasing out fossil fuels completely and with over half its energy needs being met by renewables, leads the pack in terms of proportion of energy obtained from renewables. The UK by contrast is fourth from bottom of EU countries, achieving just over 5% renewable power in 2013-14.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East and a member of the European Parliament’s environment committee, said:

“What we are seeing across Europe, especially in Portugal and Germany, is evidence, should we need any more, that while the EU is driving the low carbon energy transition, our Conservative government is actively committing Britain to an energy industry rooted in the last century.

“Only a few days after it was announced Portugal was running on entirely renewable energy, a Tory council in North Yorkshire signalled the country was ‘up for shale’ by approving the first application for fracking in five years.

“The EU is providing a safety net for Britain’s renewables industry at a time when Ministers are vigorously stripping away support for the sector and, instead, backing the frackers.”

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, a region identified as having huge potential for renewable energy, said:

“We know we can follow the lead of other countries in the EU. Last year I commissioned a report which concluded that the South West of England has the potential to generate in excess of 100% of its energy needs from renewables and create 122,000 jobs in the process. We clearly have some of the best renewable resources in Europe, which makes our low ranking in terms of renewable energy even more of a disgrace.

“It’s clear that our government’s ideological obsession with nuclear and fracking, is turning us into an EU laggard when it comes to making the much needed energy transition. EU laws and targets provide the push while many of our EU neighbours offer the pull; challenging us to do better and showing what can be achieved. If we walk away from the EU now we risk losing the incentives to transform our economy to one powered by clean and green renewable energy.”

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, concluded:

“The EU is absolutely the best place for European countries to design policies together to collectively meet our energy needs whilst phasing out fossil fuels. In contrast to the UK government, the EU has recognised the need to transform our energy system and the millions of green jobs that can be created in doing so. To meet our commitments under the Paris climate agreement we need to work together with our European neighbours to set renewables and energy savings targets and agree ways of meeting them. Those arguing for us to leave the EU say they want control, well we won’t get control of climate change by walking away.”