The just green transition: Canada’s proactive approach

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By Béla Galgóczi, Senior Researcher at the ETUI

The EU is losing its leading position in climate and energy policymaking

In the search for good practices and ambitious policies and initiatives on how to manage climate change and the transformation to a zero carbon economy, we increasingly need to look beyond Europe.

Since 2004, Europe has been a leader in adopting ambitious climate policies. However, in recent years the EU has lost momentum in greening its economy and its leadership in this area is eroding rapidly. Since 2011, clean energy investment in Europe has halved, mostly due to austerity and policy uncertainty. Progress in energy efficiency has also been extremely modest and much of the reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions recorded in Europe is attributable to slow growth and recession.

Europe is losing ground: New investment into renewable energy, bn USD (Bela Galgoczi, Europe’s energy transformation in the austerity trap, ETUI, Brussels, 2015)

The recent ‘Clean Energy’ package launched by the European Commission can be seen as a recognition of the loss of Europe’s former leading role in the green transformation. While it is a positive sign that the Commission has once again set itself the target of ‘achieving global leadership in renewables’, it does not mention that this was a position already occupied by the EU between 2004 and 2011.

The success of the COP21 in Paris showed that there is now a global commitment to getting climate change under control. Several regions and countries outside Europe are setting out ambitious energy and climate policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and move towards a greener production and consumption model.

Canada, which until only recently had a bad reputation in this area, is catching up with its energy policy and green economy ambitions. Europe has clearly had a better track record in the past, but in terms of current climate policies and ambitions, Canada and certain US green states are outperforming it. Furthermore, it is China that now takes the global leadership in clean energy investment, far outstripping Europe.



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