Plans for low-carbon economy lack international orientation

17-10-2012 | News item

Although energy markets are interlinked and energy companies operate internationally, European countries have a strong national focus in their climate and energy policies. Countries have little regard for the impact of their national policy measures on neighbouring countries and vice versa. Better coordination between countries would support the desired energy transition and reduce costs.

This is evident from an analysis by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency of the so-called climate and energy roadmaps for Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. All these countries agreed in the EU to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, provided that other countries around the world make a similar effort. Remarkable is the strong national focus in each of the countries' plans for a low-carbon society by 2050; for example, the strongly connected energy markets, transnational gas and electricity grid infrastructure, internationally operating energy companies and transmission system operators are hardly taken into account. In order to avoid obstructing each other’s climate and energy plans, countries will be required to collaborate to a greater extent than at present. Expansion of wind energy in northern Germany, for example, is already causing peak loads on the Dutch power grid. Furthermore, countries may also benefit financially from such collaboration.

Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom have ambitious plans for the implementation of the climate and energy agreements. These plans for 2020 are considerably more ambitious than the European targets. The policies in these countries are based on multiple ambitions regarding innovation and opportunities for industry, and can count on strong political and societal support. Moreover, there is active involvement on the highest political level. There are also similar developments in France. In the Netherlands, however, the focus for the time being is on cost effective compliance with European obligations for the short term (2020).