Germany’s Der Spiegel writes here that the EU is moving to abandon its ambitious climate protection targets. This, Spiegel writes, is now a real threat to Germany’s much ballyhooed Energiewende (energy transformation to renewable energies).
The EU used to be a leading, unrelenting proponent of CO2 emissions reduction, even often ostracizing other industrial nations like the USA for not following its lead on carbon emissions. Many EU countries even implemented laws and generous subsidies to promote large-scale renewable energy systems. But now, some ten years later, EU policymakers are waking up to the exorbitantly high costs of green energies and their unpredictable, uncontrollable supply.
Originally the EU’s target was to reach 27% renewable energy by the year 2020, and 40% by 2030 (Germany is even pushing for 60% by 2036). Today the EU insists it’s still sticking to that target but Spiegel writes that emissions cuts will be voluntary in the future:
Upon request from Commission president José Manuel Barroso, the EU member states will no longer receive concrete requirements for expanding renewable energies in the future.”
Moreover, Spiegel writes that the EU wants to begin clearing the way for fracking. The controversial method is now widely used in the USA and natural gas prices there are some 65% cheaper than in Europe as a result, thus creating a serious competitive disadvantage in key industries – such as chemicals.
Germany, a vocal proponent of rash CO2 reductions and climate protection, has reacted critically to the EU’s new intentions. German economics minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) criticized the EU and wrote that it “cannot afford to let this opportunity to get away.”
The Berlin Foundation for Science and Policy (SWP) claims that more relaxed EU targets and less support for renewable energies could have real impacts on German climate policy: “In such a context it is going to get increasingly difficult for Germany to successfully maintain a national leadership position.”
In other words, as Europe abandons aggressive climate change policy, Germany eventually will be forced to follow.
In summary, Europe’s backing down from pushing through a radical green transformation of its economy appears to be in large part driven by the high costs to consumers and a worsening capability to compete globally. Rescued again by the free markets!