EU Energy Summit Turns Climate Agenda Upside Down

EU Leaders Back Shale Revolution, Roll Back Climate Policy 

By Dr. Benny Peiser —— Bio and Archives--May 23, 2013

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Europe’s heads of State and government want to promote shale gas and to reduce energy prices. They would rather promote competition than stop global warming.—Christopher Ziedler, Der Tagesspiegel, 22 May 2013

For the first time, rising energy costs and the declining competitiveness of the European economy will be rated higher than obviously unenforceable global climate change ambitions. The economic and social consequences of collective hysteria can no longer be ignored, as the governments of the EU member states admit in this paper.—Holger Krahmer MEP, EurActiv, 22 May 2013

The portion of Wednesday’s EU summit that will be devoted to energy policy could be boiled down to a single, eye-popping chart that has been making the rounds in Brussels over the last week. It tracks electricity prices – excluding taxes – for industry in the EU, US and Japan. From a common point in 2005, three lines diverge widely to reflect the fact that prices in Europe are now 37 per cent higher than those in the US, and almost 20 per cent higher than those in Japan. That chart captures a growing fear in Europe that rising energy prices now pose a threat to the industrial competitiveness of a region mired in recession. It has been driven home by a steady stream of announcements from European manufacturers about plans to build new production facilities in the US.—Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times, 22 May 2013

EU energy policy must shift towards diversifying supply, with natural shale gas likely to be part of the mix, EU leaders said at a summit in Brussels on Wednesday. The emphasis on competitiveness and prices is an indication that environmental and climate concerns are falling down the EU’s list of priorities.—EUobserver, 22 May 2013

Europe’s plan to decarbonise its economy by 2050 could be turned on its head at a summit today if EU heads of state and government sign off on measures prioritising industrial competitiveness over climate change in draft conclusions seen by EurActiv. One high-profile German MEP Holger Krahmer (ALDE), hailed the end of “climate hysteria” in a jubilant press statement. —EurActiv, 22 May 2013

The naive faith of policy makers that Europe’s main competitors would follow this shift from cheap fossil fuels to expensive green energy has gone up in smoke. In reality, most nations are completely unimpressed by Europe’s approach. Europe, the Washington Post recently warned, “has become a green-energy basket case. Instead of a model for the world to emulate, Europe has become a model of what not to do.” EU leaders are beginning to wake up to the enormity of the green energy fiasco. They will meet in Brussels for an energy summit on May 22 to discuss how to respond to the crisis. –Benny Peiser, Financial Post, 14 May 2013

UK Prime Minister David Cameron offered robust support for European exploitation of shale gas, telling journalists: “No regulation must get in the way.” “Europe has 75 percent as much shale gas as the US, yet the Americans are drilling 10,000 wells per year while we in Europe are drilling less than 100,” he noted. He added it is “no surprise that over the last decade Americans have increased their energy from shale from just 1 percent to 30 percent, and here in Europe we are now paying twice what the US pays for wholesale gas.”—EUobserver, 22 May 2013

EU leaders agreed Wednesday to face up to the challenge posed by the shale oil and gas revolution which has slashed US energy prices, undercutting Europe’s competitive edge. The EU’s 27 heads of state and government met amid fears the US-led shale boom will reshape the global economy and leave Europe far behind. Stuck in the doldrums, the European economy has lost nearly all momentum, with growth hard to come by and rising energy costs a real concern. The challenge is enormous for a Europe which paid more than one billion euros a day for its energy imports in 2012.—AFP, 22 May 2013

Soaring German energy costs in the wake of the country’s transition to renewable energy have seen more and more firms thinking abut relocating their operations. German industry lobby associations on Wednesday sent a warning shot towards the government in Berlin, saying that rising energy costs in the country would drive away more and more German companies.—Deutsche Welle, 22 May 2013

There is indeed a sort of paradigm shift. While a few years ago, climate policy was the issue which characterised EU energy policy to 90%, today other priorities have made their way to the forefront. This is because people have understood that there is no peak oil, that we have enough oil and gas for a long-term period. There have been new shale gas findings, new oil reservoirs with tight oil. Secondly, we have the economic and financial crisis, and people had suddenly other priorities than climate change – like having jobs, economic competitiveness, and affordable energy prices.—Friedbert Pflüger, European Centre for Energy and Resource Security, EurActiv, 22 May 2013

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