State of the Union: European Commission strengthens climate ambitions with increased emissions reduction target and commitment to Green Deal objectives

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered her first State of the Union Address, detailing a stronger climate ambition and indicating renewable energy as a growth strategy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and for long-term EU-wide success.

Today, during the 2020 State of the Union Address, President von der Leyen announced a plan to increase the EU’s GHG emissions target from 40% up to at least 55% by 2030, as well as a commitment to allocating 37% of Next Generation EU funds to fulfilling the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Von der Leyen specifically mentioned renewable energy technologies as a means of meeting these targets: “We will enhance emission trading, boost renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, reform energy taxation. But the mission of the European Green Deal involves much more than cutting emissions. It is about making systemic modernisation across our economy, society and industry. It is about building a stronger world to live in.” Von der Leyen stated that by summer 2021 the Commission will revise all of its energy and climate legislation by mid-2021 – including the Renewable Energy Directive and EU ETS Regulations – to ensure that it is aligned with the new 55% emissions reduction target.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “Today’s announcement that the European Commission has increased its emissions reductions target to at least 55% by 2030 is the kind of bold climate leadership that we urgently need. In order to reach the ultimate objective of becoming climate neutral by 2050, the Commission must continue to follow this ambitious path, and the European solar sector is ready to help. As the lowest-cost and most easily deployed clean energy technology, solar can not only contribute to this target, but through its job-intensiveness and scalability, can help ensure a green recovery and just transition for all Europeans.”

Aurélie Beauvais, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe, said: “President Von der Leyen’s pledge to the European Green Deal is good news for the European solar sector, as reaching these goals will require a massive increase in solar deployment, particularly on buildings. As was noted in the speech today, Europe’s buildings generate more than 40% of total emissions, so focusing our efforts on making them smarter, more efficient, and sustainable is a priority for the sector. In the framework for the Renovation Wave initiative, installing solar on all new and renovated buildings in the EU could save 7 million tonnes of CO2 annually, and since currently more than 90% of roofs in the EU are unused, there is a golden opportunity to fill this space with solar. Further, Von der Leyen’s mention of hydrogen and European manufacturing reveals another space where solar can contribute – through the production of 100% renewable hydrogen, and through boosting innovative solar manufacturing projects. In all cases, the EU solar sector is ready to step up to meet the Commission’s future-oriented vision.”

Mercè Labordena, Senior Policy Advisor and Coordinator of the Finance Workstream at SolarPower Europe, commented: “The announcement that 30% of Next Generation EU’s €750 billion will be raised through green bonds shows that the Commission continues to lead the world in sustainable finance. In line with the European Green Deal, it is now crucial that investments are first directed towards cost-competitive and Europe-leading renewable solutions, such as solar, which continues to be the cheapest clean energy technology and where further cost reductions are projected.”

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