Europe's plans for how to meet its energy needs in the next decade and beyond are dirty and dangerous, and serve big business profits more than ordinary people, campaigners are warning today.
A two day summit in Brussels today and tomorrow is the first time the European Union's 28 heads of state and government will discuss the '2030 package' of plans to tackle climate change and meet energy needs.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the meeting today to express their frustration and call for a clean energy future which puts people at the centre.
Sonja Meister, climate justice and energy coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "People are fed up with the inability and unwillingness of governments to transform our energy system. Europe's politicians must end our fossil-fuel dependency and stop being beholden to polluting big business. The transition to a clean energy future can start with three binding targets for cutting emissions, cutting energy use, and increasing renewable energy for all EU countries for 2030."
The package being debated is not in line with climate science or based on justice and will not reduce Europe's dependency on polluting energies like coal and shale gas. Under the plans the EU would commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). It would not set nationally binding targets for increasing renewable energies or for reducing energy use. This equates to a slowing-down of emissions reductions compared to the targets set for 2020.
The organisers of the demonstration say emissions must be reduced by at least 60% by 2030 and there must be binding targets to reduce energy use by a minimum of 50% and increase the share of renewables to at least 45%. Additionally, the EU needs to provide financial and technology support for climate action in developing countries. Only action on this scale will bring about the energy transition needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Dirk Vansintjan, of Ecopower, and president of the federation of renewable energy cooperatives REScoop.eu, said: "All across Europe citizens are investing in the energy transition. They are insulating their homes and installing PV-panels and solar boilers; together with their neighbours they are starting larger community power projects. More than 2000 Renewable Energy Sources COOPeratives already exist. Governments have no choice but to follow citizens who are taking control over their energy future."
A report by Friends of the Earth Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory released yesterday documents the extent of the close relationship between European Commission officials and business lobbyists. It details the tactics fossil fuel companies and heavy industry have used to convince the EU's most senior politicians to put business wishes above what science requires and the principles of climate justice.
Across Europe people are already involved in creating clean, community-owned energy. Community energy projects exist in many forms right across Europe – from solar villages in Spain, to co-operative wind farms in Belgium, and community energy saving schemes in the Czech Republic – but they need more political attention and backing to fulfil their potential.