The work of Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy is placed under the spotlight by Open Access Government, with a focus on his priorities for the energy sector
Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy has held this position since 2014, since which time he has been responsible for increasing Europe’s energy security, among other things. This responsibility can be achieved by, “diversifying sources of energy imports and uniting Europe’s negotiating power in talks with non-EU countries”, according to his official website.1
His other important responsibilities concern selecting energy infrastructure projects to help establish a European Energy Union, developing an EU policy for renewable energy so that the EU can become the world leader in this area – plus strengthening the Emissions Trading System, the EU’s flagship climate policy. We must not forget the Commissioner’s role in proposing new EU laws to implement the 2030 climate and energy framework, as well as navigating negotiations with the European Parliament and national governments in this vein.
EU budget: Plans for funding on the environment and climate action
On 1st June this year, we learn that for the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Commission plans to increase funding by almost 60% for LIFE, the EU programme for the environment and climate action which was discussed in a recent Open Access Government interview with Catherine Bearder MEP.2 We know that LIFE programme is one of the EU funding programmes for which the European Commission plans the largest proportional increase, with a budget of €5.45 billion from 2021 to 2027. The European Commission has incorporated climate action into all key EU spending programmes, especially cohesion policy, regional development, research and innovation, the Common Agricultural Policy, energy, transport, as well as the EU’s development policy. To implement the Paris Agreement and the commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission proposes to increase the level of ambition for climate financing across all EU programmes, with at least 25% of expenditure contributing to climate objectives.
Concerning this, Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete says: “A stronger LIFE programme will play an important role in expanding investments in climate action and clean energy across Europe.
“By continuing to support climate change mitigation and adaptation, LIFE will also continue to help the EU deliver on its climate goals and commitments under the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“Our ambitious commitment to clean energy in Europe and the Paris Agreement will be made a reality by laws like the one voted today: the revised buildings directive will help create local jobs, save consumers money and improve Europeans’ quality of life.”
One of the main features of the new LIFE programme is an increased focus on clean energy, indeed, one of the main aims is to encourage investment and support activities towards energy efficiency, particularly in European regions which are behind and need to catch up in the transition towards clean energy. Of course, the next step is that a swift agreement will be reached on the overall long-term EU budget and its sectoral proposals, to ensure that EU funds begin to deliver concrete results as soon as possible.
Agenda for safe, clean and connected mobility
In May this year, we discover that the Juncker Commission is carrying out the third and final set of actions to modernise Europe’s transport system. The aim of this policy is that all Europeans can benefit from less polluting vehicles, safer traffic and more advanced technological solutions, while also offering support to the competitiveness of the EU industry. In this vein, initiatives will include an integrated policy for the future of road safety; a strategic action plan for the manufacturing and development of batteries; the first CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles; and a forward-looking strategy on connected and automated mobility.
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete comments on this agenda: “All sectors must contribute to meet our climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. That’s why, for the first time ever, we are proposing EU standards to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles.
“These standards represent an opportunity for European industry to consolidate its current leadership position on innovative technologies.”3
The statistical treatment of Energy Performance Contracts
Also, in May 2018, Eurostat4 and the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched a new Practitioner’s Guide on the Statistical Treatment of Energy Performance Contracts.5
Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy explains his own thoughts on this initiative: “Thanks to the revised guidance published…it will be easier for schools, hospitals, and other public buildings – which make up more than 10% of the overall EU building stock – to invest for the purpose of improving energy efficiency.
“Energy efficiency measures are also an important means to combat energy poverty, which this Commission aims at tackling at the roots.”
The energy performance of buildings
In closing, it’s worth taking a brief look at new rules announced in April to make buildings more energy efficient and smarter. On 17th April, the European Parliament gave its final approval on the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive which is a key element of one of the Juncker Commission’s priorities for, “a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy”.
The comments made on this by Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete convey a strong sense of optimism in terms of delivering this important aspect of European Commission policy, for clean energy and to save money for consumers.
“Our ambitious commitment to clean energy in Europe and the Paris Agreement will be made a reality by laws like the one voted today: the revised buildings directive will help create local jobs, save consumers money and improve Europeans’ quality of life.
“It will also help combat energy poverty by reducing the energy bills of older buildings which will be renovated. I now call on the European Parliament and the Council to show leadership and complete the rest of the proposals of the Clean Energy for All Europeans Package.”6
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