After the EU Council that concluded today in Brussels, the European Union, which will be 50 this month, is becoming the world leader in the fight against climate change.
According to Reuters, the President of the European Commission Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso said the agreement today represented “the most ambitious package ever agreed by any commission or any group of countries on energy security and climate protection”. (source)
The EU Council decided to push renewable energies forward. This will be done as the part of renewables in the energy generation of EU is due to go from 6 percent nowadays to 20 in 2020.
This goal will prove to be difficult to achieve as many countries will have a lot to do. France has six (6) percent ; Germany, four and the UK only two percent of these energy sources.
To balance the various thinkings, the draft included wording on the importance nuclear can have to stop climate change and improve the energy independence. Some countries are still totally against nuclear, like Austria which have no nuclear plant or Germany that is planning to phase out of nuclear in the coming years.
Replacing nuclear plants by coal or gas-fired ones will increase the carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, according to several sources, in the case of a life cycle analysis, many renewables emit more CO² than nuclear.
To me, there are three additional ideas to do the job :
- Developing clean coal solutions. A third of the electricity in the EU is coal-based. Coal is very important for countries from the former Eastern bloc. An idea to mitigate climate change and to still use coal is to capture and store the emitted carbon. The technology is called Carbon Capture and Storage, also known as CCS.Even by this technology, coal and gas will remain more polluting than atom based plants. CCS capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide, leaving a still important part going into the atmosphere, and thus increasing climate change. One also needs to note that CCS is still not fully operational for commercial operation, would be costly and its efficiency have not been totally proven.
- Improving the energy efficiency in all sectors and in an important way. 40 percent of the energy used in the EU is for housing. In France alone, 20 million housings are not enough insulated. Insulating a place can decrease by a factor six the energy needed. A EU-wide plan to decrease the energy consumption for housing heating would prove to bring massive decrease of greenhouse gases emissions.
- Pushing nuclear forward. To me, replacing nuclear plants by renewables is quite preposterous and simply would be counter-productive with regards to the goals to be achieved. These green energies should rather replace the part taken by coal-fired plants.
I would like to conclude today’s article that by using these four means at the same time, the EU would easily reach its goals and would also be able to go further than the 20 or 30 percent targets.
I do hope that the EU will do whatever is necessary to do they committed themselves to today. This will be another huge asset for EU and will enable it to lead the “fight” against climate change.
Meantime, other countries are beginning to be aware of the threat that global warming represents to them. This will be the subject of my next article that will bring us to Brazil.