There is a question that currently puzzles me: Why is the European Union so unambitious on climate and energy goals?
We have seen recently that the European Commission unveiled plans to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and that these cuts would be insufficient to prevent climate change.
This is even more puzzling as the energy transition is already saving money and creating jobs across the EU. Official estimates suggest that 300,000 new jobs in the renewable energy sector were created in the past five years alone. The goal is to create 1.5 million green jobs by 2020.
Many countries are already doing a lot to further renewable energy sources and have begun to benefit from their efforts. Here are some of them:
- Denmark has recently unveiled plans to cut its emissions by 40 percent by 2020. During the windy month of December 2013, more than half of the electricity consumed in the country came from wind.
- Germany is the most evident example of a European country that has been benefiting from renewable energy sources. Germany has twice as many people employed in the renewables sector than in all other energy sectors combined. An estimated 377,000 jobs have been created in the renewables sector in Germany
- Ireland has already saved up to a billion euros – $1.37 billion – on electricity thanks to renewables, according to the local Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Furthermore, carbon dioxide emissions were cut by 12 million tons. The country currently spends as much as 6.5 billion euros per year on fossil fuels imports.
- Italy may not be talked about a lot, but has also seen a renewable energy boom in recent years. The installed capacity of renewable energy sources has gone from 18 GW in 2001 to 41 GW ten years later. In 2011, renewables provided 28 percent of electricity production.
- Spain is already getting a fifth of its electricity from wind power, making it the top energy source in 2013. Overall, renewables now account for almost a third of the local electricity. A decade ago, renewables brought in only around 15 to 22 percent.
- The United Kingdom has been advancing wind power for the past few years and has now more offshore wind capacity than all other countries combined. Additionally, the country got 10 % of its electricity from wind during the month of December. On December 21st, no less than 17 percent of the total electricity demand was met by this renewable energy source;
All these countries could rightfully push ambitious goals for climate change mitigation and green jobs as they are benefiting from renewable energy sources.
Let’s hope it will be the case this year during the and next one in Paris for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP).