E-energy declaration: will energy digitalization be beneficial to the climate?

Informal meeting of the TTE Council in Tallinn
From left to right: Ms Kadri SIMSON, Estonian Minister for Economic Affairs and Infrastructure; Ms Violeta BULC, European Commissioner for Transport.
Location: Tallin – ESTONIA. Date: 21/09/2017. Copyright: European Union.

It was last Wednesday when the EU energy ministers met in Estonia with industry representatives to sign the Tallinn energy declaration targeting at the digitalization of the market. This declaration aims at helping the EU to meet its climate and energy targets via digital and innovative solutions.

This action is meant to add significantly to the battle against climate change the moment that the European Court of Auditors reported that EU climate and energy policies are not sufficient and much more should be done in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 emission targets. What is more, BEE renewable energy association reported that green energy is going to account for 16% of the German power consumption till 2020 failing to reach the target of 18%.

However, the president of the European Council expressed his support to Emmanuelle Macron for his initiative on the Global Pact for the Environment. Donald Tusk asked for a prompt and comprehensive implementation of the Paris agreement stating that climate change is a global challenge.

Energy declaration

The e-energy declaration shows the path for cleaner energy transitions through digitalising the European energy sector where both private and public stakeholders will participate. The Estonian Minister of Economic affairs and Infrastructure supported the declaration pointing that information technology is necessary in every sector. More specifically, Kadri Simson said: “During [its] presidency of the Council of the European Union, Estonia as an e-state has taken a leading role here. Estonian consumers have received digital solutions in the field of energy rather well, but we are undoubtedly still at the very beginning of a long journey. It is precisely for this reason that it is important today to agree on a common vision for the future and a cooperation format in Europe. Today, it is not possible to advance with any topic without putting it into the context of the development of information technology.”

The European Commission was in favor of the energy declaration stating that Estonia can help Europe in the digital know-how for a more inclusive and efficient energy market. Maroš Šefčovič mentioned that Estonia can “maximise storage facilities, develop smart energy efficiency tools and enhance cooperation between the public sector and private companies to help consumers find the best energy prices and providers via digital avenues”. What is more, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy welcomed the declaration as an attempt to create an energy sector that is available for everyone via digital solutions.

Emissions reduction is inadequate

The report that the EU auditors published shows that emissions are not reducing as fast as it is needed in order to catch the 2030 climate targets. Particularly the emissions must be decreased by 50% over the next ten years and after 2030 levels have to surpass 300%-400%. The problem, according to the landscape review, mainly lies on the differences of the legal framework of the EU countries and the failure to take advantage of the EU fundings on renewable energy projects.

Thus, it seems that the EU cannot reduce gas emissions efficiently and adequately despite its hard efforts. The auditors support that climate will be notably different till the end of the century even if the targets set in the Paris agreement are finally met.

Germany falls short of energy target

Another report published by BEE renewable energy association shows that energy from green sources will account for 16% of German power consumption by 2020. However the EU target that was set for Germany was 18%. The latter occurred due to the increase in energy consumption in the transport and heating sectors. Also, the BEE warns that if it persists, the target of 18% will fall even more slowing down Germany’s effort to deal with climate change.

Technology supports climate change

The development of technology is helping in the reduction of gas emissions and the fight against global warming which is very crucial as the U.S. has decided to drop from the Paris agreement. Therefore, EU and China are left to push the rest countries to continue their effort to protect the environment and reduce their fossil fuels’ dependency. As Frans Timmermans, first vice-president of the European Commission, said last week: “The Chinese are faced with such a challenge that you can see the sense of urgency prevailing there more and more, and the willingness to cooperate with us is getting stronger and stronger. People are suffocating in the cities in parts of China. They know they need to do something urgently about this. And in some areas they’re moving at incredible speed.”

All in all, several reports reveal that there is still room for improvement in the reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions and the transition to a low-carbon economy. As it seems, the e-energy declaration could add on this signaling a strategy for the digitalisation of the energy sector which could facilitate the fulfilment of the climate goals set by the EU.

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