In the midst of an economic downturn, European leaders will debate at this week’s EU summit how to move towards a low carbon economy.
Strained relations with Russia and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East have put energy security high on the agenda.
“Studies from the Commission itself indicate that the EU would be able to reduce their import bill by about 400 billion euros if it would fully reap the potential of energy efficiency,” said Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe.
“Really there is a lot of things that Europe can do, by promoting energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy to reduce our dependency on Russia and the Middle East in the import of fossil fuels and it would be very good for the climate at the same time.”
The European Commission wants three targets to be achieved by 2030:
— 40 percent carbon emissions reduction
— 27 percent increase in use of renewable energy
— 30 percent improvement in energy efficiency
Germany and Scandinavian countries favour ambitious goals, but the UK and eastern European countries argue they would stunt growth.
However saving the planet from climate change need not be costly to the economy, according to one group of global experts who produced a study on the topic.
“In some more energy intensive industries, like steel and chemicals, we need to keep on innovating,” said Jeremy Oppenheim, executive chairman of Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
“A European package that drives for energy efficiency, that drives for increased investment in infrastructure, that drives for great innovation, is the platform that could allow Europe to play the role it should be playing in the high value components of those global industries.”
A UN Climate Conference in Paris aims to broker an international agreement to keep the planet’s global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.