The EU’s strategy to boost Europe’s energy independence – called REPowerEU – risks locking-in climate-wrecking fossil fuels and offers inadequate comfort to people who already cannot afford rising energy bills.
The European Commission today released a suite of new energy proposals to accelerate energy transition and make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels by 2030. But Friends of the Earth Europe says the REPowerEU proposals fail to make a decisive break with the broken, polluting, conflict-fueling energy system of the past, and fall far short of addressing the scourge of energy poverty.
The new proposals aim to quicken the deployment of renewables and nudge energy efficiency and renewable targets slightly higher for 2030, which Friends of the Earth Europe welcomes, but the plans are fundamentally undermined by support for new fossil gas terminals and pipelines. Research shows that clean energy alternatives to gas exist and are better value for money.
The Commission has also floated the idea of access to a minimum level of electricity at a reasonable price, but overall the package is extremely disappointing for Europe’s energy poor who have been left with little safety net for next winter. No additional funding or regulation was announced to kickstart renovation or renewable programmes to tackle energy poverty and address Europe’s indecent housing scandal.
Eilidh Robb, anti-fossil fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe commented:
“These plans are supposed to fast-track the clean energy transition – but the European Commission’s latest strategy gives with one hand and takes with the other. So-called REPowerEU contains useful and necessary strides towards renewable solutions but it simultaneously enables almost 50 fossil fuel infrastructure projects and expansions.
“Overall, these plans will replace one dirty dependency with another and waste time we don’t have, and burn money that could be much better spent, on propping up an energy system of the past, instead of marking the turning point towards the fair, and resilient energy system of the future.”
Kieran Pradeep, energy poverty campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe commented:
“Today’s announcements are out of touch with the everyday struggles of millions living in energy poverty who are anxiously waiting for an action plan for next winter. While RePowerEU’s energy savings plan places the burden on individual behaviour, the reality is many Europeans are already self-rationing energy. We have proven long-term solutions for people facing energy poverty, from access to subsidised renovations to renewables, but there’s nothing new in this plan to show how access to these will be given to the people who need them most.
“We welcome steps to invest in long-term solutions, like the roll-out of heat pumps, but the strategy offers little new to ramp-up renovations. Renovations and renewable programmes must go hand in hand to tackle energy poverty.
“The Commission’s acknowledgement that electricity market design could include ways to ensure that all citizens have access to energy is a step in the right direction. This must now be backed by action from governments to ensure the right to clean, affordable energy for all.”
Friends of the Earth Europe welcomes recognition in the proposed Solar Strategy of the important role that energy communities can play in the transition. EU member states must support community renewable projects by urgently transposing the Renewable Energy Directive into national legislation and establishing frameworks of support to help citizens and communities become part of the energy transformation.
While welcoming the ambition to accelerate renewables, environment groups are concerned that the proposals on permitting could undermine vital environmental safeguards.