On 14 June 2022, the think-tank Friends of Europe held its annual Climate and Energy Summit. This year’s summit aimed to take the pulse of the climate crisis and energy transition, by focusing on how to strengthen EU’s energy sovereignty, the development of clean technologies and the role of sustainable finance in cutting down emissions.

Ahead of the summit, we recorded a video question from Marie following an online citizens’ panel we held in May 2022. She asked how the EU can respond to the energy crisis with greater solidarity.

To get a response to Marie’s question, we put this comment Mechthild Wörsdörfer, Deputy Director-General for Energy at the European Commission. You can see her answer in the video at the top of this post.

We also had a question from Kostian, who asked: “In the short term, how challenging will it be for the EU to create the right conditions for climate innovation through technology?”

To get a response, we put Kostian’s question to Ann Mettler, Vice President, Europe at Breakthrough Energy. What would she say?

I am just back from the United States, where I spoke to several CleanTech investors, entrepreneurs, and what I heard was, actually, that Europe is quite well positioned. There is a lot of interest in what Europe is doing. It is perceived that Europe has many opportunities and that is, of course, wonderful. However, anyone who knows me also knows that I would caution and say that this is not a time to be complacent. And if I look at Europe, there are 3 shortcomings that need to be addressed:

Firstly, from the policy perspective: it is so important to look at the entire innovation cycle. From the early-stage R&D to the last-stage deployment and commercialisation. I am not at all concerned that Europe is doing well in the early stages of the innovation cycle. We do very well in R&D, there is exciting research going on. However, I do have very grave concerns about the later stages of the innovation cycle, so when it comes to really creating the sizeable markets. That is where Europe has room for improvement.

Secondly, climate innovation or clean tech innovation is genuinely difficult. Because so many of the ultimate products are very undifferentiated. So, if you use green cement vs carbon intensive cement, there is not going to be a palpable difference, it is the same for green steel, low carbon fertilizers, sustainable fuels… There won’t be a huge difference. This is why price matters so much. We need to bring down the green premium, so that these technologies become cost competitive, because that is when they will become used. We can’t just let the market play this out, because that will take decades. This is why policy interventions such as carbon contracts for difference, are so important. So we really need to think this through.

Thirdly, clean tech innovation really requires a massive amount of investment. To give you an example: McKinsey estimates that decarbonising the steel sector will cost $145 billion per year for the next 30 years. So we really need new, blended finance instruments, like low cost equity, concessionary finance, but also we believe that philanthropic capital comes into play to de-risk these projects so that they can accelerate these innovations and bring them to the market faster.

Should the EU respond to the energy crisis with greater solidarity? How can Europe achieve energy sovereignty? How can this transition be financed fairly and effectively? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) Sergeeva Leka
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7 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    Generally, spontaneous solidarity in times of major crises requires the willing cooperation between consenting and sovereign parties.

    Any enforced response via a legalised binding treaty obligation (which many in the EU contemplate and this question hints towards) is not my choice and should be rejected because it’s driving us sooner or later into an EU dictatorship.

    The same system and trajectory caused the fall of the USSR. We cannot schaffen alles- and if forced- at what cost?

    Enforced solidarity is creeping dictatorship. And a cause for member states to lose even more political competencies and eventually their UN-guaranteed sovereignty.

    “How can Europe achieve energy sovereignty?” For my part, this question received my suggestion previously. Why ask again?

    Please use persuasion and diplomacy- otherwise, we would not need a highly paid army of delegates and politicians! A much cheaper AI program could answer all these questions very efficiently- eventually!

    Where would these outdated guardians of our democracy find other suitable jobs in an ever-shrinking global economy?

  2. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    It’s sad that we didn’t have a better trans-European gas pipeline network, that would ease the access to different suppliers from anywhere in Europe, e.g. Germany would have a better access to Argelian gas through the Italian and Spanish access points, for scenarios of conflict with Russia, or Spain would have an easier access to Russian gas through Germany’s access points, in case of conflicts in the north of Africa.

    That’s the proactive and preventive solidarity that I would expect, just integrating better the European energy market would unlock more choices for scenarios like this one. That integration means also some extra efforts and sacrifices, for the sake of future opportunities and future resilience. That’s strategy and that’s solidarity.

    To make it worst, in the ongoing chasm with Russia, Mr. Sanchez, the Spanish PM, screwed the relationship between Spain and Argelia… :D can we make it worst? :D

  3. avatar

    Dumb solutions from the unelected gyenecologist and her gang are unacceptable. Everyone should be happy, wishes came true. EU becomes independant of Putin’s gas. What is the problem?

  4. avatar

    Crise de l’énergie provoquée par elle-même…

  5. avatar

    Those countries did the mistake to depend on Russian gass, took the risks at that time. Rather to find other sources than to compromise!

  6. avatar
    JT HK

    As Europe turning its back against Putin’s “unethical energy”, Europe is just pursing more evil and unethical energy source from a warmonger, the US. The US has definitely been killing more innocent people of the later developed states in Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan than the Russia has.

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