Dialogue on climate change, clean energy and sustainable
Secretary of State,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First may I thank our hosts for this very important initiative to discuss common challenges and your strong commitment to developing the Gleneagles Plan of Action.
I would also like to thank the UK representatives for a continued support for the Commission’s activities in the energy field during the presidency in the EU.
I think that we all agree that today’s conditions - the increasing recognition of the seriousness of the consequences of global warming - call for more drastic measures than the world has taken to date. Many countries have taken often different commitments to address the many challenges facing energy policy – economic, environmental, social and international. But all the while those challenges are getting more acute. Society is changing. But our need for energy does not. We all want to be more energy efficient and give renewables a real chance. We all want to see greenhouse gas emissions under control. And we are all signed up to sustainability. But, all the time, greater mobility, more electrical goods and higher social expectations are compromising our good intentions. Something stronger, more fundamental - and structural - is needed.
I think that the Commission can play a pivotal role in driving these changes, providing, of course, that Member States, industry and individuals are prepared to adapt. Perhaps higher prices are a signal which could catalyse this about.
In my view, our first priority is to increase the efficiency with which energy is used. One fifth of our energy is wasted, which is a drain on our economy and society. It is a last economic opportunity which could play a real part in reaching Europe’s Lisbon goals. All levels of society are affected and and all levels of society should be involved in our programme of action. Ultimately, as I have stated in my Energy Efficiency Green Paper, I believe that the EU can stabilise energy demand at 1990 levels, without affecting standards of living but even improving them.
Second, we need to increase diversity in our energy supply – new energy forms and new technologies are needed. Research must be intensified into clean coal, nuclear, biomass, and photovoltaics. New oil and gas suppliers are needed to replace dwindling reserves at home. But consumers must also understand the limitations of our fossil fuel dependence – not to mention its destructive effect on the environment and climate.
Third, we need to create the conditions for the investments which will be necessary to assure the electricity, gas and oil on which our economies depend. Investments are needed not just in domestic capacity, particularly renewables, but also in production overseas and transportation. And we must find ways to ensure that the principle of sustainability is respected in all parts of the chain.
Fourth, within the EU we have to ensure that European legislation – on markets, renewables, energy efficiency – is not only properly implemented but also properly applied. A large responsibility for this will fall on Member States. European agencies, such as the Intelligent Energy Agency, and local agencies must play a full role in promoting good practice and new technologies.
Fifth, Europe must build up its international role. Europe needs to speak with one voice in global market. We will continue to intensify our collaboration with producing countries as Russia, Norway and OPEC partners. But we also need to explore new opportunities for new energy diplomacy with other countries. Relations with consumer countries must be given a new priority. And let us learn from the history of oil geopolitics as we develop a new geopolitical agenda for gas.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For a secure energy future, Europe needs a long term and convincing energy policy, integrated into, and contributing fully to:
In this light, the Commission’s intention to undertake a fundamental review of the EU’s energy policy to ensure that it fully meets the objectives of security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability. In a similar vein, the recent EU informal summit at Hampton Court placed energy at the top of the areas where further actions are needed on the EU level. I highly welcome the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s recent call for a common European energy policy. As a first step, the Commission will issue a Green Paper on a Secure, Competitive and Sustainable Energy Policy for Europe in spring 2006.
I believe this approach will contribute to strengthen the EU’s role as a global player in the world energy market. By doing this and sharing our know-how with our partners, the EU is fully committed to provide a substantial contribution to the implementation of the Gleneagles Plan of Action.
I look very much forward to continue exchanges in this framework in order to make further progress in the Dialogue.
Thank you for your attention.