The European Commission is focusing on hydrogen from renewable electricity, to accelerate the decarbonization of the various sectors and to achieve climate neutrality in 2050. What does this mean for the future of energy imports from Russia, currently the largest supplier of natural gas to the European Union? A chance, the authors of this background article find, and elaborate on challenges and first steps on how to leverage this opportunity.
The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2021 published today paints a mixed picture of progress by the European Union (EU) on climate action. While the Scandinavian EU countries, Portugal and the EU as a whole rank high on the index with relatively good indicators, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic stand out as outliers on climate progress within the bloc. In the overall ranking, the EU has improved from the 22nd place last year to the 16th place this year, almost exclusively thanks to a much better rated climate policy. The CCPI analyzes and compares climate protection across 57 countries (plus EU as a whole) with the highest emissions, which together account for 90 percent of global emissions.
The new EU-Africa Strategy was proposed in March 2020 by the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The aim is to strengthen cooperation in five key areas.
To become climate neutral by 2050 at the latest, the European Union needs to reduce transport emissions by 90%. Rail as one of the cleanest modes of transport can play a key role here. On 21 September 2020, Germany as the EU Council Presidency is convening a Ministerial conference on rail transport. NGOs from Germany, Poland, France, Spain and Brussels are calling on EU transport ministers to initiatie a European Rail Renaissance. This would be a win for economic recovery, European cohesion and the climate. The declaration asks for concrete measures to make rail cross-border rail transport in Europe more attractive.
The EU energy system is still far from being climate neutral or based on 100 % renewable energies. The currently discussed revision of the guidelines for the Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E), which provide the basis for the selection of the so-called Projects of Common Interests (PCIs), has the potential to set a new course.
Long-term stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans is closely interlinked with the fate of the EU. A positive development in the region and the maintenance of good relations are in the EU’s strategic interest. Geopolitical interests continue to compete in the Western Balkans: China is increasingly rivalling ideas of international solidarity and co-operation offered by the EU. This has become most apparent during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that followed. The new momentum of recently extended financial support should be the starting point for a more serious cooperation with the Western Balkans on the energy transition. The German EU Presidency in the second half of this year should focus on making energy transition partnerships a reality. This is an opportunity that the EU should not miss.
The conflict between the US and China over leadership in the coming world order is becoming more intense - and forcing the EU to clarify its own relationship with China. Co-operation on climate policy can play a key strategic role in this process. It is therefore high on the agenda of the German EU Council Presidency in the second half of this year.
When EU and Western Balkan leaders met on May 5th for a virtual EU-Western Balkans summit, the main focus was on the response to the Corona crisis and the EU accession prospects for the countries of the region. However, one topic should not be forgotten: the development of the energy sector in the Western Balkans. Both sides could gain a great deal from Energy Transition Partnerships, especially in order to create future prospects for the economy after the corona crisis.
Due to the global decarbonisation transition, Russia is likely to lose its coal, oil and maybe even natural gas export markets in the EU over the next 30 years. In this analysis, Oldag Caspar discusses the impact of the EU climate targets on the Russia-EU relations and the prospects of a Russia-EU decarbonisation cooperation that is beneficial for both sides.
The main objective of the LIFE funded project "UNIFY: Bringing the EU together on Climate Action" is to facilitate the effective and early transition of EU Member States to low-carbon and resilient economies.
The consortium partners of the project are focusing on three key policy processes:
1. the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP)
2. the national and long-term climate strategies (Long Term Strategy - LTS)
3. the EU budget (Multiannual Financial Frame - MFF)