Having survived the 2008 financial crisis with deep wounds, the European Union is now facing an unprecedented challenge – the COVID19. Next to the health and safety issues, this challenge is also impacting the economies of all Member States. The instability in the projections of the economy as a whole (given the recession rates estimated from various organisations) has also raised a series of questions about the fragility of Member States’ climate and energy planning.
Most Member States submitted early 2020 their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) to the European Commission, where they established the energy transition pathways they attempt to pursue. However, these pathways and the means to achieve them are estimated on specific economic growth assumptions, now outdated because of the severe GDP losses expected from COVID-19.
The new economic era that will awaken will bring different energy needs and hence lead to rethinking the energy infrastructure investment plans. This will depend mainly on the conditions and priorities set for the stimulus plans developed by the EU and the Member States: this demands the change of policymakers’ mindsets, who must rethink their future plans for the energy systems, bundling the energy transition with economic growth, health and eradication of poverty and unemployment.
The NECPs should thus be updated to the extent that they reflect the reality of the post-COVID19 economic situation. This process could be linked to the EU and MS stimulus plans which should be major contributors to the achievement of the energy and climate targets and an opportunity for enhanced coordination of the MS. This will be the only realistic way for the EU Green Deal to succeed!
As recently pointed by 13 European climate and environment ministers: “We must not lose sight of the persisting climate and ecological crisis when working out how to spur the economy after the coronavirus pandemic”.
Tools such as the NECPs can help structure a consistent post-COVID19 sustainable energy future, if updated soon and wisely. It is crucial that all levels of government act fast AND in a structured way, enabling to reach long term targets.
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