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Key note speech by Mr Christos Papoutsis, Member of the European Commission, responsible for Energy, Enterprise Policy and Tourism,European Voice Conference, Climate Change and the Future of the European Energy Industry: looking ahead to Kyoto
 
 

Brussels, 6 November 1997

Mr Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are only some three weeks away from the international negotiations at Kyoto. These negotiations have been the focus of much preparation over the past year. This reflects the importance of the issue for the welfare of the world community. It is indeed difficult to over estimate the importance of the issues we now have to address.
By its nature, climate change introduces challenges at a global level. They range over generations and affect all human activity; both social and economic. Climate change touches developed and developing countries, rich and poor alike.
The full consequences of climate change, and of the actions necessary to minimise the impacts, will have to be widely understood.
We need a more transparent, more democratic debate. We need an endorsement by the public.We need their consent and legitimacy to the wide range of actions, which will be necessary.
For this reason, I welcome events such as this. Because, they provide an opportunity of reaching out to many of the actors involved, and to those who help shape public opinion.
The energy sector faces a major challenge in the climate change debate. The role of energy production, distribution and use is quite critical for the emission level of the different greenhouse gases. The special focus on carbon dioxide emissions puts energy in the front row of the policy debate.
Energy policy needs to focus more on the environmental impacts of the energy sector itself, and of energy consumption for transportation, heating, lighting and turning machinery.
We need to address in particular the issue of efficiency. To consider how we produce and use energy, and also consider the carbon content of different energy sources.

Because of the importance of energy in the climate change debate, the Commission adopted a Communication on "The Energy Dimension of Climate Change" in May of this year. This is presently under discussion in the Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.
In this document, we highlighted the challenge of significantly reducing emissions in the energy sector. Based on our in depth analysis of future energy developments, and the range of policy tools available, we attempted to identify ways, in which reductions may be achieved.
Having looked to European energy needs to 2020, under different scenario assumptions, we are attempting to develop an energy policy, which contributes to sustainable development. Our concern is to ensure energy supplies which are secure, environmentally friendly and in competitive prices.

Our energy policy has to be environmentally responsible, in particular as regards climate change. But, at the same time it should take into account the important role of energy as a factor of production, and as a basic consumer good. We need to focus our actions on transport, on electricity production and consumption.
We are looking at how the electricity industry could contribute to achieving the objectives of sustainable development and emissions reduction.
I believe that there is the potential for a technologically based, innovative energy sector, to contribute to sustainable development. In a radically changing, and increasingly competitive world, we need to explore all the options and range of actions.
Our analysis has pointed to substantial productivity potentials in the production and use of energy. And, this is very important for energy's role as a factor of production. Today, we are facing a growing global economic challenge. Energy efficiency is important as Europe looks to increasing employment, and to its competitive position in the global market.
A dynamic energy sector has an important implication for achieving substantial, and indeed radical improvements in local, regional and global environmental conditions. We all know the science and technological skills, which are necessary to develop, and use energy resources efficiently. There is a growing demand for clean, and efficient energy services, with the capital and organisational skills available to satisfy this demand.
Creating a favourable climate for investment is an important focus of public policy, particularly given the dual challenges of global competitiveness and climate change.
Our energy policy framework is designed to help us face this challenge. This policy is based on three main elements: Increasing competitiveness, security of supply and environmental protection. The challenge of climate change is fully reflected within the emerging structures of our energy policy.

There is a common approach of both Council and Commission giving emphasis on two important policy areas:

promoting energy saving and efficiency, and

the development of renewable energy sources.

We undertook to rapidly come forward with the first two initiatives. A Community strategy for the promotion of Renewable Energy Sources in the form of a White Paper, which I will present shortly. And a Communication on promoting Combined Heat and Power production, which has been adopted recently. These policy initiatives are supplemented by reinforced dialogue with economic actors, on improving energy efficiency, promoting energy savings, and reducing carbon intensity.

Achieving our common energy and environmental objectives at Community level requires common and co-ordinated measures. Looking to our energy action programme, four specific initiatives will make important contributions to our overall efforts on greenhouse gas emission reduction.
Firstly, greater penetration of renewable energy sources;
Secondly, promotion of combined heat and power;
Thirdly, energy saving measures;
Fourthly, enhanced efficiency improvements for industrial products and processes, in buildings and in transportation.
The wide ranging public debate, which took place around our Green Paper on Renewable Energy Sources emphasized the importance of promoting these sources. Both, as an important means of reducing CO2 emissions, but also in order to promote security of supply, as well as industrial, technological and regional development.

Our forthcoming White Paper will outline the strategy needed in order to achieve the objective of at least a 12% penetration of renewable energy sources in our energy balance by 2010. An ambitious, but realistic objective. Today, a concerted effort is needed, both at Community and Member State level.
In the meantime the Commission has called on Member States to develop their national strategies and objectives for promoting Combined Heat and Power within a co-ordinated Community strategy framework. This coordinated strategy is essential, if the Community is to double the current share of Combined Heat and Power in its total electricity generation from 9% to 18% by the year 2010.
The need to adopt a coherent and integrated approach, drawing on a wide range of instruments is key to developing a strategic response to the likely outcome of Kyoto.
The environmental challenge of climate change also underlies our proposal for a Framework Programme for Actions in the energy field.
Actions to reduce CO2 emissions have been given a high priority in our Energy Programme over the next 5 years, in particular through the promotion of environmentally friendly technologies.
At the same time, we are looking at how other elements of our policy can contribute to facing the climate change challenge. We are looking at how the process of electricity and gas liberalisation can also work towards achieving our environmental goals.
I would like to emphasize, that we should not underestimate the role of local and regional authorities in this global issue. The Rio concept of "Think globally and act locally" must become a reality. It is why we have placed emphasis on the creation of Local and Regional Energy Management Agencies. To date, the Commission has financed the creation of 140 of these agencies throughout the Union. Our objective is to promote local and regional energy planning, focussing on promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

But, this is not sufficient. To be really effective it is necessary to complement the Rio concept with a new concept "Think locally to act globally". Indeed, local elected representatives need to integrate the climate change concern in all their local policies, in order to help solve this global issue.
But, another side of the coin is also the potential for developing external actions through the PHARE, TACIS and SYNERGY programmes. Both in countries with economies in transition, and those in the Mediterranean basin.


Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Achieving substantial improvements in energy efficiency requires the co-operation of electricity generators, equipment manufacturers, and of consumers. It requires the modification of their production and consumption patterns.

Reducing carbon intensity in the fuel mix will pose challenges to the industry, the utilities, and the public authorities. There will be some challenging decision to make.
Industry, including small and medium sized enterprises has an important role to play. There is a need to develop climate change response strategies across all policy areas, in particular transport, industrial production, land use and agriculture.
Immediately following the Kyoto conference, the Commission intends preparing an overall action programme for combatting climate change, as requested by the Council. This will include the long-term actions required to adapt our energy systems to the new realities.
We have to take into account the derived nature of energy demand, and the close interaction between societies' needs and the energy system. I believe it is important that this work is undertaken with the involvement of the economic actors, in order to develop a flexible response, drawing as much as possible from the expertise of users and producers.
We will need to do this in a co-ordinated way, mutually sharing the burden, as well as the opportunities. We will also need to reflect on the contributions required. I believe it is important that the energy sector plays its full role, and at the same time that the energy realities are taken into account in climate change, and environmental policy.

When the Kyoto negotiations are completed, and taking account of the subsidiarity approach, we will be able to identify and propose, for action at the appropriate level, concrete initiatives. Initiatives, which will address the objectives to be attained, in collaboration with economic actors.
Adjusting our policies to climate change provides a challenge of enormous complexity. This complexity reflects these global considerations, and the important role fossil fuels have played in our present economic system and prosperity. Moving from a carboniferous world will be a long and difficult process. When implementing the decisions, we need to explore the intensity and range of policy responses necessary, both in the immediate future, but also in the long term.
I want to emphasise the need for strategic long-term thinking, to face the challenge of getting on a technological path, which will enable the world to undergo a transition. A transition from our present energy system serving our economic requirements, to one, which will serve our needs equally well, but, which will also address the need for ensuring stability in our climatic conditions.
I believe that we are beginning to understand the depth and breadth of required policy. Delivering the desired results, however, requires contributions by all players. It is important to extend the debate widely. To ensure acceptance of the steps required. And, I hope that today's discussions will contribute to this process.


Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The forthcoming Conference on climate change in Kyoto will hopefully be a new milestone in international cooperation on global issues. The European Union has taken a lead in the negotiations, but it is very important that an agreement is reached between all the industrialised countries. We cannot act alone, without our trading partners. On our part, we will do our utmost to achieve a consensus.
But, I would like to assure you that, we in the Commission are not only aware of the need to combat climate change. We are also aware of the challenges that this poses to the energy industry, and to the economic sectors which use energy.
Challenges also entail opportunities. And, it is important for us to seize these opportunities, when developing a policy framework addressing climate change. Sound and sustainable development is critical both for our economies and for the future of our planet.

 

 

 
Ημ. Έκδοσης:06/11/1997 Share Εκτύπωση
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