The future of energy: the process to achieve a net-zero Europe must be must approached in terms of reasonability and graduality

Energy - March 15, 2023

Nowadays it is more and more common that the political debate, both at national and European level, is focused on the energy and the future about this particular sector.

The Ukrainian crisis has exacerbated the need to look for new sources of energy outside Russia, which emerges as one of the world’s leading suppliers. As such, Europe and the world as a whole have been faced with a crisis condition that is not only human, but also and especially economic and energy. The war that began on 24 February 2022 has had dramatic repercussions on the entire world system, leading all countries to have to reflect on their own future.

The European Union has therefore decided to focus even more on the so-called Green Deal Plan, adding to it a New Green Deal Industrial Plan, with the aim to ensure a net-zero industry field in Europe, adding value to the technological developments.

Making Europe the first zero-emission continent by 2050

The EU’s intent is to make Europe the first net-zero continent by 2050 by setting very strict short-term targets. In fact, the legislation that has been passed intends to stop the production of fuel and diesel cars from 2035, thus achieving, within a time range of about ten years, an overall reduction of around 50 percent in CO2 emissions.

In any case, this project that the EU strongly aims to take in action has received strong criticism from countries such as Italy, Hungary and Poland, because it intends to set targets that are unrealistic, to say the least, and that could only have a general negative impact on society, from the point of view of production, the economy and labor. In fact, setting such close and high-impact targets does not take into account the possible consequences that this could mean for the entire community.

It is fundamental to create a sustainable society and to focus on an economic sector that should be defined “green”, but it is also necessary to keep in mind that the European territories have their own specific characteristics and that every State should follow its own way to reduce the pollution and should adapt its own legislation in order to create a more efficient society in terms of eco-sustainability. If the transition is too fast, the consequences for the whole economic and financial system will be dramatic.

The importance of a green transition is undeniable, but it also should be pursued in terms of graduality and reasonability. The relevance of a slow green-process is also represented in a research that has been recently conducted at European level.
This document contains the analysis based on the peculiarities of different States, especially the ones that can be related to the so-called Balkan area.
Substantially, the aim of the study is to consider the way in which the different scenarios of decarbonization of the European energy industry produce financial impact at the level of the member states of the Union, as well as at the level of the European states at the continental level.

The results of the research represent a situation in which the majority of the countries will be significantly affected in terms of economic and financial issues. On the other hand, the only regions that will not be touched by the measures proposed in the European green plan are the Nordic ones, because in this area there’s already an effective policy that aims to fight the climate change and there’s a constant action that implement this type of green actions.

Strengths and weaknesses of the Green Plan

Summarizing, the Green Plan has its own strengths and weakness, and the EU should take into account each aspect of it and, first of all, should take care of its own citizens.

The strong points of the Green Deal are related to a decrease of the costs of heating and an improved situation in terms of human health, that it is often damaged by the atmospheric pollution.
On the weak points, the Green Deal involve an investment for a total amount of approximately 4 trillion euro, just for the decarbonization and the energy industry. It also expected to have a large-scale investment in the European car industry of hundreds of billions of euros, which aim at 2035 as a turning point – giving up the production of thermal engines.

In addition to what said before, it is necessary to underline some geopolitical and geoeconomics aspects. Most of the Member State and a large part of the countries that should be defined European from a geographical point of view do not have a general stability. In particular, Europe is largely dependent on Russian energy resources and it is still not prepared to a turning point in energy field. The European energy industry should approach this green transition with intermediate steps: in this way, also the economic system should be prepared to this. It is therefore necessary to invest on different resource, supporting a development of the energy sector by using renewable materials and sources of energy. It is a very long and complex process and it should not be done in a range of time of almost 10 years.

The ideological approach makes EU goals unrealistic

Europe wants to respect an unrealistic term that even the two most powerful countries of the world cannot be pursued. Indeed, China is considering the year 2060, while in North America: “Sustainable investing already accounts for a third of all assets under management in the US, and a recent BlackRock survey found that investors plan to double their allocations to sustainable products over the next five years. This will likely lead to widespread development of wind and solar power, electric vehicles, batteries and financing for new fuels. It could also mean introducing carbon taxes.”

But there’s a difference between Europe and the Chinese and American realities.
China and US present structural differences in terms of their respective economies. First of all, they are less dependent in terms of energy and trade. They hypothetical survive on their own, due to their great territorial extension and to the number of natural resources that can be found in that areas. And, in addition, these two nations have already started a process in order to achieve a decarbonization status, by investing in pure energies and by improving the technological sector in terms of climate sustainability.

Europe is not yet ready for such a sudden and drastic transformation. The European Union is still facing multiple crises, such as economic, health, and energy ones. It is necessary to provide the appropriate tools to achieve the ambitious goal of a zero-impact Europe, but it is also crucial not to overlook the peculiarities and difficulties that each country faces internally. A common energy policy must therefore be provided, but without setting stringent, very short-term targets. It is necessary for each member state to find the right way to get to obstruct a reality that is sustainable. The sustainability of the society must be pursued in the name of the climate and environment, but a community should be defined really sustainable only when all of its sectors support the citizens. Europe should also realize sustainable and resilient communities that can really face the challenges of the future in a positive and efficient way.