Can Europe still be the world leader in clean energy?


The EU aims to be the world leader in fighting climate change and has set ambitious goals for a “zero-carbon future”. But new research shows that Europe risks losing the renewables race to countries like China that have invested heavily in new technologies.

study conducted by the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, under the auspices of IRENA, looked at the implications of the global transition to renewable energy.

The report makes it clear who is best-positioned to take advantage of that transition: “China’s concerted efforts to research, develop and invest in renewable energy and clean transport offer its industry the opportunity to overtake US and European companies,” it says.

But Europe doesn’t have to relinquish its world-leader role in the clean energy revolution if it makes the right policy choices now. And it should not have to outsource its ambitions when it comes to renewables.

One area in which the EU can do a lot better is in boosting its bioeconomy – which will be essential to decarbonization efforts in the coming decades – and especially its use of sustainable biofuels. Low-carbon liquid fuels such as European renewable ethanol have an immediate impact on greenhouse-gas reduction in today’s vehicles – the cars that are likely to be prevalent on EU roads for decades.

Importantly, European renewable ethanol is a homegrown solution: produced in Europe from European feedstock, creating European jobs, boosting rural economies and providing an important source of domestic animal feed.

The message from all this is clear: It’s more important than ever that the EU steps up and boosts its use of renewables like European ethanol. That way everyone wins.

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