Europe risks losing out to China and the US on renewables, study warns

Clare Saxon Ghauri
Reading time: 3 minutes
6 February 2014

LONDON: Europe risks losing its foothold as a major competitive renewables market to China and the US if it doesn't regain leadership on climate and green energy policies, warns a new study.

The report by Climate Strategies, a European economic research institute, says that if Europe doesn't enact policies to tackle climate change and grow investment in renewables it will miss out on jobs and industry monopoly to competitors.

Authors attest that while the EU was bailing out its banks in the euro crisis, countries such as China, India, the US and hundreds of others, were busy investing heavily in renewable energy.

Michael Grubb, Chair of Energy and Climate Policy at Cambridge University and Climate Strategies Board member, said: “Europe cannot compete in the global economy based on cheap resources. Like Japan in the 1980s, it must compete on innovation and efficiency. Europe currently has a good position on patents across most low carbon technology sectors, but this risks being rapidly eroded. Europe is not ahead on energy efficiency, and renewable energy targets now exist in 138 countries. 66 countries, including Australia, South Korea, South Africa, Canada and Brazil have emulated the feed-in-tariffs widely used in Europe.” 

The trend of renewables growth being increasingly dominated by countries outside of Europe is evidenced in another report released today by the Global Wind Energy Council, that reveals 2013's global cumulative installed wind power capacity growth of 12.4% was led by China and Canada.

Today's Climate Strategies study further warns that Europe could lose its position as a pioneer of emission reduction solutions, which would also damage the region economically.

The study concludes that Europe must stay competitive on innovation and energy efficiency to attract long-term investment. It states: "Europe should remain a part of the leading pack. This not only increases its international credibility in the field of global climate protection, but also has potential to create or maintain strategic economic advantages in sectors that are growing globally. The security of supply can be increased by reducing dependence on energy imports. In addition, clear climate change policy can create an attractive environment for investment in clean technologies, particularly insofar as it reduces policy uncertainty. Such investments can create new growth sectors and much needed jobs in Europe and thus also contribute to Europe’s economic recovery."

The study comes at a pivotal moment when Europe is debating its new post-2020 climate and energy policy package. Many clean tech businesses and NGOs agree the EU must secure ambitious energy and climate policies for 2030 to reap the economic rewards of a low carbon economy.

By Clare Saxon

Read the report

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