EU 2030 Energy Green Paper: Introduce Oil Import Reduction Targets

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Reposted from Lenz Blog:

Commissioners presenting Green Paper © European Union, 2013
Green Paper Presentation  © EU, 2013

The EU Commission has published a Green Paper with the title “A 2030 framework for energy and climate policy.”

This is a first step in discussing mid-term policy. The paper explains the policy goals in place for 2020, as well as legislation enacted to achieve those goals. And then it asks a large number of questions, calling for comments from the public with a deadline of 2 July 2013.

The main three goals for 2020 are of course reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 by 20%, getting to a share of renewable energy of 20% (not only of electricity, but of all energy), and increasing energy efficiency (saving energy) by 20% compared to business as usual predictions in 2007.

There is a long list of legislation in place already to achieve these goals. This Green Paper is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in researching that.

And the list of questions is also quite long. I will discuss only one of them in this post.

Which targets for 2030 would be most effective in driving the objectives of climate and energy policy? At what level should they apply (EU, Member States, or sectoral), and to what extent should they be legally binding?

Obviously, the 2020 targets will be developed further. For example, in Germany, the 2020 target for renewable electricity is a 35% share in 2020, and a 50% share in 2030, codified in Article 1 of the Law on Priority for Renewable Energy. That’s just common sense.

What I would add is targets for reducing the maximum possible amount of oil, coal, and gas imported into the EU each year.

That will of course happen anyway sooner or later. If you transition to renewable energy, you need less fossil fuel. So this kind of target would be achieved automatically anyway.

But I would like to see targets for these import restrictions that are slightly more ambitious than what would happen anyway.

Let’s just focus on oil to explain the basic idea. Right now, the EU paid EUR 500 billion in 2012 for oil imports. These are around 12 million barrels a day (Europe Facing Peak Oil Report, page 39). Dependency on imports is expected to increase, since oil production in the EU is going down fast.

So my idea would be to supplement renewable energy targets with oil import reduction targets. Get that 12 million barrels a day down to 6 million until 2030 (just one example).

And get it down faster than it would go down anyway with only a renewable target in place.

There are a couple of obvious consequences such a policy would have. For one, if the EU succeeds in getting oil imports down by 50%, the EUR 500 billion in 2012 prices would shrink to 250 billion, a substantial saving. Of course this will be overcompensated by the fact that there is no way oil stays below $200 a barrel in 2030. Which in turn means that the amount saved will be even greater.

And, more importantly, oil prices will go up in the EU. That means more profit for the oil companies, so I expect them to support such a proposal. This is of course the Phaseout Profit Theory, a central argument of Lenz Blog, in a regional application.

It also means fewer stinking gasoline cars on the road, and a faster transition to electric cars. Always refer to gasoline cars as “stinking gasoline cars,” by the way. This is the correct way of phrasing things. And it means that investments in passive house technology to save heating costs will pay off sooner, so the existing building stock will be upgraded faster, and new buildings will pay more attention to avoid wasting heating energy. It will also mean that more people will heat with biomass instead of oil.

For more on the Phaseout Profit Theory, I recommend reading my latest global warming science fiction novel “Tasneem,” which is available as a FREE PDF file here.

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Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz

is a professor of German and European Law at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, blogging since 2003 at Lenz Blog. A free PDF file of his global warming science fiction novel "Great News" is available here.

Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz has 67 posts and counting. See all posts by Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz