'Clean Planet for All': An ambitious strategy for all?

The European liquid fuel heating sector calls upon policy-makers to consider the needs of off-grid territories

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The European Commission has adopted a particularly ambitious long-term strategic vision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions in Europe by 2050. This Strategy presents various pathways to reach the EU’s contribution to limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C, reflecting the commitments made in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate, while ensuring “that this transition is socially fair” and “enhances the competitiveness of EU economy”.

Representing the liquid fuel heating sector, Eurofuel welcomes this exercise and acknowledges the need to have an ambitious plan for Europe to take on the global warming challenge. “The Commission has carried out a serious work with a sound scientific basis to propose scenarios for tomorrow’s energy mix”, said Ernst-Moritz Bellingen, Eurofuel’s President. “While too many policy-makers until recently had illusions about a magical solution to solve climate change, the current vision rightly recognises the need for a mix of low-emission energy sources and technologies. All of them will have to play a part if we are serious about our objectives”.

An ideal form of energy to store and transport renewable electricity in future will be the Power-to-Liquid (PtL) technology, also called “e-liquids” in the Strategy, which is duly considered in the Commission’s document. “Synthetic fuels like PtL and advanced bioliquids will be indispensable to achieve a low-carbon or carbon-neutral process for many applications such as air transport or in the petrochemical industry. In other sectors such as mobility and heating, PtL products should be able to compete on a fair basis with other low-carbon options”, Bellingen added.

Concerning buildings, while the Strategy recognises the potential for renewable gas to reduce the emissions caused by heating in those buildings connected to the grids, no mention is made of bioliquids and renewable liquid fuels of non-biological origin, such as PtL. Bellingen said: “30 million households are currently heated with liquid fuels in the EU, often in rural areas, mountains or islands, off the gas grids. Innovative liquids, biological or synthetic, offer a renewable alternative for these households, without the need to completely change their infrastructure. It is regrettable that this potential is not explicitly mentioned in the Strategy”. Several demonstration projects with heating systems running on partly renewable liquid fuels are already in place across Europe, achieving substantial levels of emissions reduction. Further research and innovation support to facilitate the market uptake of low-emission fuels will be welcome.

No doubt the transition of energy systems and infrastructures will come at a high cost for our societies. It could amount to an extra EUR 290 billion a year, according to the Strategy. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to ensure a socially and geographically fair sharing of costs. Bellingen said: “In the latest weeks, some European countries have seen major protests from a number of middle and low-income citizens, often living in rural areas, against the disproportionate cost of climate policy measures for certain categories of people and territories. We are calling upon EU and national policy-makers to take the legitimate concerns of these populations into account when enforcing climate action and avoid imposing solutions which would only fit to well-off city dwellers”. He added: “It should not be about sweetening the pain with EU funding for vulnerable people and regions but properly empowering all citizens to be part of the transition”.

A few days before the start of the COP24 climate change conference in Katowice, Eurofuel invites all European leaders and institutions, as well as international partners, to consider these aspects when designing their clear sets of actions to implement the Paris Agreement. The liquid fuel heating industry is strongly committed to a low-emission future for all citizens, including those living in rural and remote areas, and will gladly cooperate with policy-makers in this endeavour.


You can download this press release here.