The European Green Deal is the flagship policy initiative of the new European Commission, and yesterday, after only 11 days in office, President Ursula von der Leyen presented the first proposals and targets of the ambitious climate strategy. With the aim of fostering European climate leadership, supporting the competitiveness of EU businesses, and becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, Von der Leyen unveiled the Commission’s plans to transform the EU economy in service of the people and planet. The Green Deal communication reaffirms the crucial role of renewable energies to power a climate neutral future, and includes a European ‘climate law’, the revision of Europe’s GHG target to at least 50% and up to 55% by 2030, and up to €100bn in financing for the just transition.
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “The European Green Deal is a global milestone in the fight against our current climate crisis, presenting the kind of bold vision and policies necessary to combat this threat. With the announced action plan, the EU signals that it seeks to maintain its role as a global climate leader, with the ambition of strengthening Europe’s industrial strategy for clean energy technologies, creating jobs and ensuring that nobody gets left behind. As the lowest-cost and most easily deployed clean energy technology, solar is primed to help deliver the European Green Deal. With EU solar installations increasing by over 100% in 2019, and projections pointing to a rapid growth pattern in the coming years – as shown in our EU Market Outlook 2019-2023 – solar is on track to power a clean and renewable Europe.”
Aurélie Beauvais, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe, added: “A cornerstone of the Green Deal is the proposal of ‘An Industrial Strategy for Europe’, which is expected to be announced in March 2020, with clean energy technologies and sustainability at its core. This is in line with the joint letter signed by SolarPower Europe, along with 13 national associations and 10 major European technology institutes, calling for a robust industrial strategy for solar and other renewables to be recognised as a strategic value chain for Europe. This is a golden opportunity for European industry to continue to develop innovative and future-proof technologies, and to re-establish a strong manufacturing value chain to provide long-term energy security.”
Other Green Deal proposals of key importance to solar include the ‘Renovation Wave Initiative’, set to be announced in 2021, which could boost the installation of solar rooftops in Europe, exploiting the 90% of EU roofs that are currently unused. Miguel Herrero Cangas, Policy Advisor at SolarPower Europe, commented: “The Green Deal’s Renovation Initiative promises to address a crucial element of the energy transition: our buildings. As the EU building stock accounts for 36% of the region’s CO2 emissions and approximately half of the total EU energy demand, climate-oriented renovations are necessary to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. SolarPower Europe recently issued a joint letter, along with 11 European associations from the construction and energy sector, which called for integrated renovations of Europe’s existing building stock, with on-site renewables at their heart, alongside smart solutions and energy efficiency.”
The communication on the Green Deal also included the ‘Green Financing Strategy’, to be released in March 2020, which involves the mobilisation of substantial public and private investment in clean energy technologies and assets. Mercè Labordena, Senior Policy Advisor at SolarPower Europe, said: “Green financing is a critical pillar for achieving Europe’s climate targets, particularly in order to ensure a just transition for all Europeans, and to facilitate the transition in hard-to-abate sectors and in former coal regions. In fact, solar is the most job-intensive renewable technology, with the potential to create hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled and local jobs in Europe.” Labordena added: “The European Green Deal and upcoming legislation on Sustainable Finance will play a critical role in leveraging the funds needed for the transition and guaranteeing that future investments are directed towards solar, and other technologies and assets that will support Europe’s industrial leadership in clean energy.”
The roadmap for climate action presented today included a tentative timetable, with proposals for a climate law, just transition fund, and a plan to increase 2030 climate targets to be announced in 2020, and a proposal for a carbon border adjustment mechanism and revision of the Energy Taxation Directive to be announced in 2021. The full extent of the European Green Deal will be revealed before COP26 in Glasgow next year.