Policy-makers and stakeholders gathered in the European Parliament on the 28th of September to discuss the important role of renewable energy sources with the Austrian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Andrä Rupprechter outlining the Austrian vision for a real energy transition. The meeting entitled “Post COP21 Challenges and Chances for Renewable Energy and Bioenergy” was chaired by MEP Elisabeth Köstinger and MEP Michel Dantin, Vice-chairs of the EP Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development”.
The Austrian Minister for the Environment highlighted that Austria wishes to push for more renewable energy production and has put forward an initiative on energy transition in Europe, which was presented in Council in March this year. It was said that a modern and responsible climate change policy must focus on energy savings, the use of renewable energies, and energy efficiency. It was said that this can be accomplished by promoting a transition to alternative and environmentally-friendly forms of energy and by creating a common legal framework, underlining a standalone Protocol on European Energy Transition (to be annexed to the Treaties). It was said that such a future Protocol should cover the energy transition as an overall EU policy objective, obliging the Commission to actively promote the objectives in terms of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation, and Member States should be supported in their efforts to realise an energy transition by using these forms of energy. It was further stressed that this initiative is a long term project that needs in depth reflection and will initiate a discussion process with various stakeholders at EU level.
The European Commission highlighted that by the end of the year to have tabled the main proposals that form part of the Energy Union Strategy and help deliver EUs commitments under the Paris Agreement. The aim for Europe’s Energy Union is to become the world number one in renewable energies. It was said that this requires measures and strategies but also the need for investors to realise the importance of investing in renewable sources as well as research and innovation. While the legislative framework towards a low carbon economy will kick in 2021 an important part is to already enable conditions to start the transition today.
The discussion with MEPs and stakeholders further highlighted the need to promote renewable energy sources taking into account that Member States vary geographical with various opportunities to use different resources. MEP Henna Virkkunen emphasised the pivotal role of forests while MEP Michel Dantin and Herbert Dorfmann stressed the importance of hydropower also underlining the need to involve the local community in such activities. The discussion further highlighted challenges and opportunities related to storage, investment, biofuels, consumption, and harmonising support schemes. It was also mentioned that 2/3 of investments must come from regions and local territories underlining the need to ensure security of such investments. The need to ensure a level playing field for renewables was also stressed.