Energy and Climate Change

Speech by Professor Jerzy Buzek President of the European Parliament Energy efficiency Global Forum 2011

Brussels -
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is good that today you are discussing energy efficiency. Better still that you are doing it in the context of everyday life. Because lasting effects are always made up of small, but real savings. This is why we politicians must set the example. It is seven years since the European Parliament took the decision to join the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. Since then we have been successfully implementing EMAS provisions in all three of our places of work, on the basis of the principle that the most environmentally-friendly energy of all is the energy we do not need to produce and consume.


Efficiency is not a state, but a process. Thanks to scientific research we are constantly discovering new ways of saving energy. The task facing politicians today is to secure funding for such important research. As Parliament’s rapporteur on the 7th Framework Programme, and later the Strategic Energy Technologies Plan (SET) Plan, I fully understand the need for the government of both national and regional levels, scientists and businesses to work in harmony.


There are a number of reasons why the European Union today needs energy efficiency.


First, it is a fundamental tool in the fight against climate change and in looking after our environment. At least two of our three 2020 goals are directly connected to efficiency. The more efficient our energy-generation facilities, the lower our emissions of CO2 and other pollutants. The better we insulate our buildings, and the more wisely we use cars, the less energy we consume saving more money at the same time. It is with that goal in mind that every few years we legislators bring in new standards on exhaust emissions with which vehicle manufacturers must come into line. The same is true for our building insulation standards.


The second reason why we need to be ever more energy efficient is cost. Economic development requires increasing amounts of energy in all its forms. If we want to return to sustainable economic growth, we cannot afford energy – one of the main driving factors of growth – becoming more and more expensive. The cost of energy is the product of consumption and price per unit. We can reduce the former by increasing the energy efficiency of the devices we use, thereby reducing the demand for energy. As far as the latter is concerned, energy prices in the European Union will depend mainly on when we manage to complete the free market in energy. But also, thanks to research and innovation, on how we will be able to improve the production and transmission of energy.


This is something I am glad we have started to take more seriously. The instability in our neighbourhood has led to instability in oil and gas prices. It is clear that we will never come back to oil at 25 dollars a barrel. Some even argue that we must prepare ourselves for two or even three hundred dollars a barrel. Energy savings are thus crucial if we wish to continue to grow.


This brings me to the third point. The need to create something which, around a year ago, Jacques Delors (former President of the European Commission) and I described as the European Energy Community. This concept has a lot to do with energy efficiency. By bringing together current and future efforts under a single, clearly-identifiable brand we want to give a synergy to those efforts. In other words, to make them more effective than if they were carried out individually.


We are not proposing a new treaty. We have no wish to create more and more bodies. All we want is for activities aimed at completing the single market in energy to be brought under a single political umbrella.


Let me give some examples of how the (new) "EEC" could be useful and effective. We could, for example, jointly purchase natural gas from external suppliers, which would allow us to negotiate lower prices. Another measure would be eliminating bottlenecks in the European network of gas and oil pipelines and in power grids. That would make it easier to pipe gas and oil throughout the EU and lead to their further marketisation. Member States will be able to choose where they import their energy raw materials from, depending on accessibility and price.


Last but not least, we should carry out joint research and innovation actions in the EU, under the umbrella of the EEC, to develop new technologies which will provide us with new ways of saving energy and improving efficiency.


This is also relevant in terms of renewable energy. If we talk about energy efficiency, and end-use efficiency, we must realize that for example, in Europe today there are regions where surplus wind energy is going to waste because there are not the facilities to transmit it further.


In economic terms European energy efficiency is about how much energy we will need to import from outside the EU in the future, and how much, and at what cost, we are able to produce ourselves.


We the politicians and you the representatives of business are linked by the same people. For us they are voters, for you customers. For politicians the task is to make laws which, in a responsible way, ensure the functioning of the Union and its Member States not just today but long into the future. When we observe energy consumption trends today we need already to think about future generations.


We must invest in technologies that allow us to save energy, use it more efficiently and bring long-term energy security for Europe. But above all, we must pass on our planet to future generations in a state that is no worse than that in which we ourselves found it.


Thank you.


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