Date: Monday, March 6, 2023 6:44 A.M., Worldwide AEDTShare At a German government retreat, President von der Leyen gave a speech. Commission of Europe Furthermore, I appreciate you inviting me back to Meseberg. The reunion is very welcome. Thank you also for the insightful and robust conversations we’ve had.
Especially given the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine, in which all of this is unfolding. It is now one year after the war began, and it is clear that President Putin has failed to achieve the primary goals he set out to achieve by starting this conflict.
He advocated for the installation of a pro-Russian government in Ukraine. He was unsuccessful because the Ukrainians put up fierce opposition. He was bent on changing Ukraine’s pro-European stance. Quite the opposite, in fact. Ukraine is currently a candidate country in the process of joining the European Union. As was just mentioned, President Putin also believed that he could weaken EU solidarity by taking advantage of the region’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels at the time.
It turned out to be just the opposite. Oil and gas imports from Russia are no longer necessary for Europe. The amount of gas Russia exported to Europe was cut by 80 percent in just eight months. Also, we worked together to find ways to make up for it. Good friends like the United States of America and Norway supplying us with LNG and pipeline gas helped.
Not to mention, Europeans did their part by cutting their energy consumption by 20% last year. Moreover, we have made substantial investments in sustainable energy. The outcomes are evident: In 2022, renewable energy sources like wind farms and solar panels exceeded traditional fuels like gas to become Europe’s primary electricity generator.
Through these efforts, we were able to not only prevent further growth or stagnation in CO2 emissions, but also reduce them by 2.5%. However, as we have covered, business energy costs are high in comparison to other parts of the world. We need to work together to increase our efficiency and productivity in order to remain competitive. Next, let’s figure out how to keep this area at the forefront of environmentally friendly technology. We must work to strengthen the enabling conditions for clean technology.
Today, clean technology is Europe’s most rapidly expanding industrial and investment sector. If you look at fuel cells, the hydrogen economy, and wind turbines, you will see that we are at the forefront of many environmentally friendly technologies. It is now critical, however, that we keep our edge in this area, as well. All of this is being discussed in light of the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ passed in the United States, which provides substantial tax breaks for the clean technology industry but is underpinned by a staunchly ‘buy American’ ethos.
Investments in the United States’ clean technology sector are, first and foremost, good for fighting global warming. However, they also create some challenges for us to overcome. In light of this, we have deliberated on possible responses. The first step is to have talks with the United States about how to interpret the Act. Second, we need to put forth more effort into investing internally. Thirdly, we must expedite procedures.
Von der Leyen said, “We’re still working on that, but the discussion has been very good and constructive,” adding that a solution needs to be found quickly to give the automotive industry time to plan for the phaseout of its prized combustion engine technology.
Christian Lindner, the leader of the Free Democratic Party and the country’s minister of finance, told POLITICO last year that Scholz had made a secret deal with von der Leyen to allow e-fuels to comply with EU emissions regulations.
E-fuels were mentioned in the Council’s conclusions from June, but only as a non-binding addendum that Germany snuck in. Wissing has asked for the Commission to make recommendations on how e-fuels can be included in the final law. “The ball is now somewhere between Berlin and Brussels,” one German government official working on the file said.