Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

Trump cannot deny business case for clean energy, says EU official

  • Ahead of Trump's inauguration, American activists took to the street to call for climate action (Photo: 350.org)

While the European Union “may not be happy” about many climate-related decisions by the US president, American businesses are moving towards clean energy anyway, the EU's highest civil servant on climate action said on Wednesday (25 January).

“Of course we don't know the details of what Mr Trump is going to sign today or tomorrow or the day after,” said Jos Delbeke, director-general of the European Commission's climate action department, at an event in Brussels organised by the European Policy Centre, a think tank.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“But there is one reality that may also be a reality where even Mr Trump cannot go against. That is that the business dynamics is as active in the United States as it is in Europe or elsewhere," he said.

Delbeke said American companies were “very active” in the sector of renewable energy, like solar panels and wind turbines, because it represented “a good business case, and lots of jobs”.

“On average ten times more jobs are created in the renewables sector compared to coal mining or coal-fired power generation,” said Delbeke.

He spoke five days after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States, the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. The EU as a bloc is the third largest.

In less than a week, Trump signed orders that will have a negative impact on US greenhouse gas reduction.

On Tuesday, he lifted an order by his predecessor Barack Obama to put the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on hold. He also promised to revive the coal sector.

Coal, and then oil, are the fossil fuels that emit the most greenhouse gases, which cause the Earth's temperature to rise.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the Environmental Protection Agency in the US has been told to remove its webpages on climate change, something which at the moment of writing has not happened yet.

EU official Delbeke said that the US may achieve its climate goals agreed in Paris in 2015, despite Trump's “hesitation”, however.

“Needless to say we are not that enthusiastic about the decision about the XL pipeline,” said Delbeke.

“We may not be happy about many decisions that are being taken. But when I talk to experts from the United States, they say that it is not to be excluded that because of the business dynamics, that the pledge that the United States have given in Paris, may well be delivered," he said.

World leaders agreed in Paris that they would adopt policies that would keep global warming “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”.

“Climate warming is indeed happening,” said Hans Bruyninckx, executive director of the European Environment Agency.

He noted that in 2016, the average global temperature was between 1.1 °C and 1.3 °C higher than since before the industrial revolution.

Bruyninckx did not subscribe to the suggestion that with Trump climate inaction, other countries should pick up the slack.

“I think it's inconceivable that we would say: okay, the US is not cutting this or that, so let's do it in Europe. That's not how the system works,” he said.

However, last weekend's "change in the world order" does give the EU an opportunity to show leadership, said Werner Hoyer, the president of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

“2016 was again the hottest year on record, reminding us that climate change needs urgent action,” he said at an annual press conference about the EIB's results on Tuesday.

“With the change in the world order last weekend, we Europeans must lead the free world against the climate sceptics," he said.

The EIB chief also noted that Chinese president Xi Jinping earlier this month urged all countries to stick to the Paris climate agreement.

“It is heartwarming it is nowadays the Chinese who are reminding us of the importance of that goal. It took us quite some time to convince them,” said Hoyer.

However, his vice-president on climate action, Jonathan Taylor, said he would not “speculate” about the US.

“All I can do is talk for our own position. Climate continues to be a very significant priority,” he told EUobserver.

“We continue to expect that we will have a minimum amount of lending in climate action of 25 percent of our overall total. We are aiming to get that up to 35 percent by 2020 for countries outside of the European Union," he said.

Taylor did not directly see a role for the EIB to pick up the slack of what the US was not doing.

“I don't think we need to add to our particular targets, although of course our 25 percent target is a minimum, and indeed we've exceeded it in the last few years,” he noted.

The EIB funds projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, as well as those that prepare communities for climate change.

Indeed, Europe is already affected by climate change, according to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA), published on Wednesday.

Climate change is expected to reduce crop yield for farmers in southern Europe, and increase the risk of forest fires, floods, and droughts.

Extreme weather situations will become more common, said EEA chief Bruyninckx.

“You have to prepare your cities for both flooding and shortages of water,” he said.

Eat less meat

But it is not only government action that is required.

Citizens will have to change their behaviour, said a Dutch institute in a new report.

The Netherlands will only be able to achieve its climate goals promised in Paris, if its citizens change their eating pattern, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said in a report on Tuesday (24 January).

That means “eating less meat, and choosing fruit and vegetables that are in season, and reducing waste”.

EU rushing to ratify climate agreement

Environment ministers will try to agree this week to speed up the process to sign up to the Paris agreement. Otherwise it would not be present at the table of the signatories at a conference in November.

Trump pledges US-first foreign policy

Economic protectionism and war on Islamist terrorism will form the heart of US foreign policy, Trump has said. He did not rubbish Nato, but indicated interest in a new Russia alliance.

Commission and council dig in on GMO opt-outs

The European Commission and the EU's national governments pass each other the buck on who should move first on a heavily-criticised proposal on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.

News in Brief

  1. Auditors criticise EU economic governance implementation
  2. Dutch environment group appeals air quality ruling
  3. Commission opens case into Polish railways state aid
  4. EU remove eight places from tax havens blacklist
  5. UK to keep forces in Germany over Russia fears
  6. Finnish presidential vote could go to second round
  7. Report: EU might pay Brexit residency fees for EU citizens
  8. Puigdemont free to travel around EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Free AlllianceNo Justice From the Spanish Supreme Court Ruling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  3. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  5. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  7. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  9. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  10. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  11. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  12. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  2. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  3. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  4. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  5. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  6. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  7. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  8. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  9. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  11. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  12. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  3. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  4. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  5. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  6. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  8. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  9. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  10. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  11. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  12. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know