Europe supports sub-national climate efforts to accelerate the clean energy transition: Paula Abreu Marques

Ilario D'Amato
13 June 2017

Paula Abreu Marques, Head of Unit, Renewables and CCS policies, European Commission

LONDON: Sub-national states and regions are leading the race and are ahead of the curve on tackling climate change, says Paula Abreu MarquesHead of UnitRenewables and CCS policiesEuropean Commission, in an exclusive Climate TV interview during an Energy Transition Platform event in Brussels.

Energy transition is often defined as a long-term, structural change in energy systems, that aims to promote a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous future. The conception of energy transition is at the core of the ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package presented by the European Commission last November.

As the US begins the process of withdrawing its commitment to the Paris Agreement, these proposed legislative measures aim to position renewables at the center of Europe’s energy choices, whilst supporting the reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

Such a transition is being led by local climate action, says Marques, and is “particularly visible in the renewable energy sector: at the city level, cities are pledging 100% renewables – like for instance Barcelona, Frankfurt or Malmo – which are much higher pledges than their own countries.”

She goes on to say that “regions should be active partners in the preparation of plans by the national authorities,” highlighting the importance of inter-regional cooperation.


“What we are aiming for is to make the market fit for renewables, and making renewables fit to the market,” she says.

Recently renewable energy has seen significant cost reductions across technologies such as photovoltaics, which saw a 80% reduction in the last five years. “I'm certain that during the next decade renewables will become more cost competitive and will be able to be financed by the market.”

Even if the costs for renewable technologies are going down, we should never forget that renewables are an investment opportunity, she underlines. “Renewables have important upfront costs, but then in terms of operational costs they are very low or even zero. Secondly … renewables are creating jobs – local jobs, in Europe – they are promoting growth, emerging new industries, new business models.”

Renewables are enabling the European Union to save huge amounts of money in terms of energy imports: in 2015 such savings were estimated at €16 billion (US$17 billion) in terms of reduction of Europe’s fossil fuel imports bill. Such reduction is projected to be as high as €58 billion (US$61.8 billion) in 2030.

“The big challenge is to make the enabling conditions for investments to take place,” says Paula Abreu Marques. “We need huge investment in the energy sector in Europe, and we need to make the environment attractive for the investors.” To achieve that, governments must come up with a stable, transparent regulatory framework.

“We need to support the sub-national efforts in their ambition for higher shares of renewables in a cost-effective way,” she concludes. “Europe needs to continue to invest in research and innovation in renewable energy – because they create markets, the create jobs, they create growth and health.”

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