In February 2015, the European Union took a step forward in the creation of an integrated internal European energy market. The purpose of the new energy union is, among other things, to reduce the import requirement for gas, to harmonise the energy policies of the member states and to increase transmission opportunities in Europe.
On Wednesday, 1 July, the energy union was in focus at Vattenfall’s seminar in Almedalen. The panellists – Sabrina Schulz, Head of the E3G Berlin office , Pierre Schellekens, Deputy Head of Cabinet to the European Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy, and Anders Wijkman, chair of the Swedish cross party committee on environmental objectives – agreed together with Sabine Froning, Director Public & Regulatory Affairs and Stakeholder Relations at Vattenfall, on the importance of the energy union setting a framework for joint European ambitions to reduce the climate impact.
The EU emissions trading system (ETS) is a cornerstone of the EU’s climate policy in the run-up to the climate conference in Paris in December, at which a global agreement will hopefully be reached.
"We fully support the Paris conference and hope that a new global agreement will be reached. The EU ETS is an important tool in the work to reduce climate impact. Its big merit is that it is the only policy instrument integrated in all EU member states. That makes it even more important to further strengthen the tool,“ said Sabine Froning.
Sabrina Schulz wasn’t as convinced on the merits of the emissions trading system. “I’m way more cautious. It might be a great tool but it hasn’t delivered. The EU ETS doesn’t provide the incentives for deep de-carbonisation.
Schulz also called for several reforms to overcome political and structural obstacles. “We have to manage the transition properly, a lot of jobs are at stake and we have to organise financial markets in order to stimulate investments in renewables.”
Anders Wijkman compared the situation to ten years ago. “In 2006, when Russia cut off gas deliveries to Ukraine we didn’t have an energy policy and didn’t discuss grid connections. We often need a crisis to prompt action. Now we have elevated knowledge among our politicians. I believe we have to create a market for energy services. There we have a huge challenge. We also need binding targets within energy efficiency.”
“Declaration of solidarity”
“We have several challenges to deal with within European energy policy. One is that we have to agree on the need for interconnectors and to call for the integration of politics. Another challenge for us a utility is that we have to develop business models in tune with regulations. The energy union is a declaration of solidarity and we welcome it,” said Sabine Froning.