Brussels (Brussels Morning) As we embark on the journey to carbon neutrality, it is important to remember that there is one common goal – net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, we cannot prioritise any technology over the other; the way forward differs for most regions, being subject to their topographical limitations.
I welcome the Fitfor55 package, as it is a major instrument for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. It is ambitious, as it covers emission caps, allowances, the Market Stability Reserve, the CO2 price, carbon leakage, sustainable aviation fuels, and even more.
Though the challenge to decarbonise is large and imminent, we cannot let the progressive ideology have its way. Rationality and science have to be in the midst of our European approach. While we push for higher CO2 prices in certain sectors, the companies relocate their production outside of Europe. As a result, Europe loses the economic benefit while not reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. To become a global leader in the decarbonisation process, we must ensure that we motivate and inspire others to follow in our footsteps. For example, China produces 28% of global CO2 emissions, while the European Union produced around 8% in 2019.
One of the main goals of the EU is to promote “sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive market economy with full employment and social progress, and environmental protection”. To stay true to our purpose, we must implement it in our strategies and future proposals.
Economic prosperity, social standards, and peace are the engines of our European project, and must be maintained to ensure enduring stability for the next half century. Rich European diversity is what makes our continent unique, and the way to carbon neutrality will reflect this reality.
The ‘Fitfor55’ legislative package is necessary to update the increased emissions reduction target of 55% by 2030, as the current legislation was designed for reductions of 40%. Moreover, for the first time, emission trading schemes will cover the maritime sector.
While I support the overall objective of the revision of Emissions Trading System (ETS), I am not sure that plan to create a separate system covering buildings and road transport is what the citizens of the European Union need right now. As our economy recovers from the Coronavirus crisis, we cannot possibly afford to spike fuel prices across the Union.
I find the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) to beg an interesting proposition on how to deal with so-called carbon leakage. Moreover, this mechanism could put European businesses on a level playing field with their Chinese, Russian and Turkish counterparts. If the carbon border levy does not anger our international partners, who could target our export back, I will consider it a great achievement.
What I am particularly interested in, is the revision of the Renewable energy directive, as it includes ‘low-carbon’ fuels. Coming from a coal region in the Czech Republic, low-carbon fuels are the only cost-effective way that allows us to reach the 2030 renewable energy target. This legislative goes hand in hand with the revision of the energy efficiency directive, that introduces a binding level for energy savings. I am very much in support the renovation of public buildings, as it is an opportunity for every school, hospital, and social housing project to become modernised and energy-effective.
I am against the proposed ban of the combustion engine, as I believe that the principle of technology neutrality must be respected. Bureaucrats should not decide what kind of technology is produced or developed in the European Union, that is a decision for the market. Moreover, low-carbon liquid fuels offer an alternative option for citizens when it comes to clean vehicle technologies. Once more, the common goal is to have climate neutral transport by 2050, and how the industry arrives there should be their decision. Low-carbon fuels can have a role as a cost-efficient alternative during the transition period, because they function on an existing infrastructure.
Lastly, I find the update of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID) supplementary to the unprecedented deployment of electric mobility. The support for publicly accessible charging infrastructure and common payment system across EU is a key step in the development of a strategic roadmap for electro-mobility. As the number of charging stations is set to reach three million by 2030, I am sure that this will create a more appealing image for electric vehicles. Furthermore, EU should focus on the development of ultra-fast charging infrastructure, to ensure recharging in required time, even for heavy-duty vehicles.
The ‘Fitfor55’ package with the new Multiannual Financial Framework and Next Generation EU provide an unforeseen opportunity to grow the European economy, whilst transitioning to sustainability. It is going to be crucial for the European Union to ensure energy security and capitalise on the shift from fossil fuels, as it keeps the capital and employment at home rather then abroad.