Renewable Energy and
policies and financing instruments for the EU's southern
and eastern neighbours
Conference under the German Presidency of the EU
19 April 2007,
Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
Global climate protection and the sustainable energy policy needed to achieve it play a key role for future developments. Germany's presidencies of the EU and of the G8 give us an opportunity to make headway on these vital issues. The decisions on climate and energy policy taken by the European Council on 8 and 9 March chaired by German Chancellor Merkel have already taken us a large step forward.
Both the Stern Report and the parts of the UN global climate report that have been published so far highlight the fact that the economic consequences of inaction are many times greater than the cost of sustainable climate and energy policies. Both documents contain an urgent warning that humankind must fundamentally rethink the way it uses the natural environment. The finiteness of natural resources is at extreme odds with the continued high levels of energy con-sumption and greenhouse gas emission in Europe's industrialized countries and with develop-ment in our partner countries in the south and in the east: advancing industrialization there is requiring increasing levels of energy. Simultaneously, we are witnessing how the poor countries of our world are forced to live with the negative impact of climate change caused by the industrialized nations: natural disasters such as droughts and floods affect, first and foremost, the disadvantaged among humankind.
We need sustainable energy policies that facilitate universal access to energy while reducing CO2 emissions to such an extent that global warming does not exceed 2°C. Economic development in combination with successful climate protection can be attained if we combine our forces, both in Europe and worldwide, to work for energy conservation, energy efficiency, increased use of renewable energy and environmentally sound use of fossil fuels.
Our European neighbor countries have tremendous potential for increased reliance on renewable energy to meet, in the long term, not only a large portion of their own energy demand but also of that of the region. A strong boost for the expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency can make a decisive contribution to energy security in Europe and in its neighboring countries.
It is not only in Europe but indeed in many regions of the world that we find evidence of the feasibility of increased reliance on renewable energy sources, energy conservation and energy efficiency. However, the factors that determine success are often not sufficiently well-known. Let us jointly make headway on effective and innovative policy and financing instruments and lay the foundation for partnership-based action.
Our experience in Germany has shown that energy efficiency and increased reliance on renewable energy sources have economic benefits: the financial volume of the renewable energy sector in Germany has reached a level of more than 21 billion euros per year, resulting in the creation of over 30,000 megawatts of installed electrical capacity. The sector now provides jobs to more than 210,000 people. Energy generation in this sector is saving about 97 million metric tons of CO2 per year. Germany is one of the leading countries in this area worldwide. We have adopted the goal of meeting at least 10 % of primary energy demand and over 20% of power demand from renewable sources by 2020.
This can only be done if the political commitment is there and if we have effective instruments. The Renewable Energy Sources Act established a framework that led to a boom in private-sector investment. Construction regulations and market incentive programs also helped expand renewable energy. In addition, there is a need for innovative financing instruments such as guarantees for risk capital.
But we did not only adopt binding goals for Germany but also within the framework of the EU. It is planned to generate more than 20% of EU primary energy supply from renewable sources by 2020 and to enhance energy efficiency by another 20% as against EU Commission forecasts. Now it is vital for the EU's neighbors to develop the political will to pursue viable energy policies and to set the tracks by putting in place an enabling political, economic and regulatory environment. Simultaneously, we want to increase our efforts for the transfer of technology, capacity building, and innovative sources of financing.
In Berlin, we want to talk about our experience and about successful strategies for implementing energy efficiency and increased reliance on renewable energy in our partner countries. The conference will be the first meeting of representatives of the political arena, the private sector, regulatory authorities and grid operators as well as nongovernmental organizations from the EU and from both southern and eastern neighboring countries. Together we want to engage in an exchange of political and practical experience to take a large step towards committing ourselves to a viable energy policy for the future. We are hoping that this dialogue will be continued by the upcoming Portuguese and Slovenian EU Presidencies so that sustainable energy policies will remain a prominent element of our cooperation – within the Union and with its partners in the south and in the east.
We would like to extend a cordial welcome to all delegates from EU neighboring countries and Member States who are participating in our ministerial conference. We wish them a fruitful exchange and the courage and the chance, upon their return, to take the decisions needed to set the tracks for alternative, secure, climate-friendly energy generation and supply!