At the UN Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015, negotiators hope to achieve a binding and universal agreement on climate targets. European policymakers hope that strict targets will help transition the EU towards a low-carbon economy (LCE), an economy that produces minimal greenhouse gas emissions. However, to make the change, the EU will need to invest an additional 270 billion (1.5% of GDP) annually over the next 4 decades, including into new technologies such as renewable energies and smart grids.
Ahead of the UN meeting in Paris, the EU has already agreed to both a 2020 Climate and Energy Package and a 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy. The 2020 targets commit EU countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, increase their share of renewable energy consumption, and increase their energy efficiency, all by 20% by the year 2020.
We’ve put together some statistics on the low-carbon economy in an infographic below (you can see it full screen here).
We had a question sent in by Alessandro on our Suggest a Debate page, asking what the EU is doing to support renewable energy and sustainable development in the poorest regions in Europe.
To get a response, we put Alessandro’s question to Corina Creţu, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy. What would she say?
Another question was sent in by Marta, who wanted to know what role cities can play in ensuring energy security and efficiency, and in developing renewable energy sources?
We put Marta’s question to Markus Trilling, EU funds Campaign Coordinator at CEE Bankwatch Network, an organisation representing a network of environmental NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe. How would he respond?
Finally, we spoke to Jakob Lagercrantz, an environmental consultant and former Executive Director of Greenpeace Sweden who often works with municipalities and companies tackling environmental cross-border issues. How would he respond to Marta’s question?
Well, actually, I think that regions and cities are doing more than countries. In the country where I live, Sweden, I would say that the municipalities and regions are doing more than the national government because it’s on the ground that the work is really being done. And the city, in concert with the rural surroundings, has a very important role to play. How do we avoid getting more cars into the city? Could we establish park and ride places along the railroads coming into the cities, and that will have to support development both in the rural areas and in the cities.
Also, where I live, 40 kilometers from Gothenburg, maybe not everybody has to commute each day into the big city of Gothenburg. Why can’t some people stay in the towns and villages, working and telecommute from there, and maybe lunching in there, supporting the economies of towns and villages? So, again, I’m being local here, but I think that regions and cities are maybe even in the driving seat when it comes to sustainable development.
How can Europe achieve a low-carbon economy? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!