Speech by President von der Leyen at the European Sustainable Energy Week

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be talking to you today at the kick-off of the EU´s Sustainable Energy Week.

There could – of course – be no better time for our meeting: In only a couple of days COP26 will start. The UN climate conference will be a moment of truth. Because current commitments are not enough to keep the world on track to reach the goal that we all agreed upon in Paris.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Most of you have been working in this field for many years. You know better than anyone that we have to be even more ambitious. And I can assure you: The European Union will do everything to make COP26 a success.

Because our climate cannot wait. This is why Europe is committed to becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. And with the European Green Deal we have proposed the world´s most advanced blueprint to reduce emissions. We will put a price on pollution. And we will make sure that the energy we use is clean.

The energy transition is at the heart of our European Green Deal. Today, our energy system alone is responsible for 75 percent of the EU´s greenhouse gas emissions. We need to decarbonize Europe´s energy mix. And the good news is, we are on track to achieve this. In 2020, renewable power generation overtook fossil fuels in the EU. And European industry is a global leader in this sector, particularly in offshore wind.

We want to build on this achievement and further speed up the use of renewables in Europe. This is why, for 2030, we propose to raise our renewables target to 40 percent of our energy. We also need to use energy more efficiently. And here too, we will propose targets to reflect our ambition. Because only what gets measured gets done.

I know that such fundamental transitions are not easy. And I am well aware of the challenges that some of your industries are facing. But I am more than confident that with our European Green Deal we will turn our fight against the climate crisis into an economic opportunity for all.

Thanks to the European Green Deal and the innovations that come with it European businesses are best placed to offer climate solutions for markets not only in Europe – but across the globe.

Let me give you two examples, which I find especially inspiring, in the context of this European Sustainable Energy Week.

First, hydrogen. Clean hydrogen is a perfect way to help reach our goal of climate neutrality. It will help to clean up some of our most polluting industries – steel, aluminium and heavy goods transport. This is why, by 2030 already, we aim to increase annual production of green hydrogen to 10 million tonnes. It is high time to move hydrogen technologies from laboratories to factory floors and into people´s everyday lives.

The Green Hysland Project on the island of Mallorca is a great example. It is the first hydrogen valley on a European island. It will generate, distribute and use at least 300 tonnes of renewable hydrogen every year – produced from solar energy on Mallorca. Green hydrogen will fuel a fleet of fuel cell buses and rental vehicles on the island. It will generate heating for commercial and public buildings. And will supply auxiliary power for ferries and port operations. This is our European Green Deal at work for European citizens.

Or take CLEAR X for instance. A project whose forerunner won our Sustainable Energy Week’s engagement award in 2020. This is my second example. CLEAR X will help 38.000 consumers in Eastern and Southern Europe to invest in and install renewable energy in systems like photovoltaic panels, batteries, pellet stoves or heat pumps.

With projects like this we are enabling people everywhere to reap the benefits of the energy transition. Decarbonising the way we produce energy not only helps our planet. It also provides benefits on other fronts. We have all seen in recent weeks how crucial it is to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal.

Currently we are facing a steep global rise in energy prices. That has happened before, especially when economies are picking up and supply lags behind demand.

Europe currently imports 97 percent of its oil, 44 percent of its coal and 90 percent of its gas. This makes our economy extremely vulnerable to price fluctuations in global energy markets. By contrast, the production costs of renewable energies have remained stable. In fact, they’ve even decreased in recent years.

So there can be only one conclusion. We must speed up the move from fossil fuels to renewables needs. Every kilowatt of electricity produced with renewable energy is not only an insurance against rising energy prices. It also helps us to reduce our dependency on imports, making both our society and our economy more resilient and our planet a healthier place.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

the European Green Deal is Europe’s calling card on the world stage. And in Glasgow we will continue to reach out to all countries to convince them to be much more ambitious, too. Following the example of the EU, most of the major economies have set targets for climate neutrality by 2050 or shortly after; from the US to China.

We now need to hear concrete plans to keep within reach the limiting of global warming to 1.5 degrees. And we need to support the least developed and most vulnerable countries. The major economies have a special duty to help them adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions as well. We should help these countries to leapfrog beyond a fossil fuel-based economic development. An important tool for this is climate finance. Europe is already the leading contributor to the global goal of 100 billion dollars per year.

On top of the 25 billion dollars that we currently provide I have pledged for the EU a top-up of 5 billion dollars until 2027. I look to all developed countries to join us in closing the climate finance gap. This is an important condition for the success of COP26.

Every country has a responsibility.

And the time to act is now.

Thank you.

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.