Europe has been the most aggressive, reliable advocate on addressing climate change and moving to renewable energy, but now, even the motives of their trade associations have to be questioned.
The Guardian reports that Europe’s major solar and wind associations have been taken over by fossil fuel companies and utilities that want to slow down renewable energy growth.
Representatives from Total, Iberdrola, E.On and Enel and even Dupont, now hold majority positions on the boards of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). How? Total owns SunPower – its marketing director is now EPIA’s president and another executive is vice president. The entire staff has shifted because of these changes away from people truly committed to renewables. The other utilities have renewable energy arms, which gets them a seat at the table.
When the EU announced its post-2020 targets, many environmental groups were disappointed. While they are stronger than most, they don’t go as far as they should have – now we know why.
Originally, EWEA and EPIA wanted a target of 45% renewables by 2030, but fossil corporates wanted no more than 30% and utilities wanted no target at all. Where did it end up? At 27% – and nuclear qualifies as renewable energy.
Both organizations also talk a lot more about the important, complementary relationship between renewables and natural gas. "Putting gas at the same level as renewables risks displacing investments from renewables into gas, thereby locking in carbon emissions over a long period of time," Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe, told The Guardian.
What’s happened is that renewable energy has grown in Europe much faster than utilities expected and they have been seriously suffering. They and fossil fuel companies decided to join renewable energy boards to slow the process down.
When the EU focused on new targets, they were under a lot of pressure to not be "too ambitious," but to be realistic instead, a source revealed to The Guardian.
We wondered why Europe focused on the need for natural gas when the Ukraine/ Russia conflict began, instead of moving more aggressively to renewables.
EU’s utilities have become major players in wind and/or solar, but they want natural gas to meet climate targets. Germany’s largest utility E.On surprised the world last year when it announced it would split the company along fossil and renewable energy lines, focusing on the latter.
Europe to Lobby Hard for Paris Agreement
Meanwhile, the UN is following up on country agreements to release strong climate targets and plans early this year. And the EU plans to help get the strongest targets possible.
It is mobilizing celebrities and 90,000 diplomats to exert "maximum pressure on key countries", reports The Guardian.
There will be a ‘Climate Action Day’ in June and a ‘100 days to Paris countdown’ event later in the year. Al Gore is organizing another round of Live Earth concerts across the world for June 18. He’s aiming for 193 television networks to carry the event to an audience of 2 billion people.