G7: Real energy security means renewables and energy efficiency

Press release - 6 May, 2014
Rome, 6 May 2014 - As G7 energy ministers meet in Rome to discuss energy security, Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner at Terazza del Pincio overlooking Piazza del Popolo reading "G7: go renewable, go clean & independent". The meeting is expected to focus on how to curb Europe’s reliance on Russian energy against the backdrop of the escalating crisis in Ukraine. The activists are calling on the G7 to back renewables and energy efficiency to ensure energy independence.

Right now, world leaders are formulating their energy and security responses as tensions escalate in Ukraine. Some countries, such as the UK and Poland, favour switching from Russia's supply of oil, gas and coal to other exporters of fossil fuels in the Middle East, the Caucasus and North America. This would threaten Europe's commitments to wean itself off fossil fuels and tackle climate change, said Greenpeace.

Commenting on the meeting, Greenpeace Global Campaign Leader for Climate & Energy Stephanie Brancaforte said: "We urge G7 ministers meeting in Rome today to take the first major steps to kick our toxic energy addiction. Dirty energy from nuclear power and fossil fuels got us into this mess and it won't get us out. Polls show that Europeans overwhelmingly support renewable energy. It's time for Europe's leaders to stop kowtowing to the dirty energy lobby and answer the public's call."

Countries like UK, Poland, US and Canada point to shale gas as a solution. However, accelerating shale gas production comes with huge environmental impacts as well as health risks and will have almost no impact on Russian gas imports into the EU before 2030 [1]. Shale gas has already been banned in France, and the Social Democrats, part of the German coalition government, have called for an outright ban on fracking in Germany.

Some countries also back nuclear power as an option. However, the small number of new reactors under construction in Europe are suffering from massive budget overshoots, technical problems and major construction delays [2].

Politicians worldwide are being lobbied by energy companies like Shell, BP, EDF, Iberdrola, PGE, RWE, Eon, ENEL, Eni, Vattenfall, Iberdrola and CEZ to keep us hooked on their dirty fuels – a number of them are in business with Russian energy giants. Many of these European companies would rather see us simply switch to other sources of dirty energy, often from equally unreliable and undemocratic trading partners, rather than fostering real solutions through renewables. But by building a clean energy network, European leaders can get us out from under the thumb of utility giants and bring in new players.

It's a no-brainer for G7 and European leaders to opt for true energy independence and stability with an ambitious renewables and efficiency plan. In a study of different conservative options for energy targets, the European Commission found that the EU could reduce energy imports by more than half by 2050. It said the EU's gas consumption could decline by 29 per cent by 2030 and 54 per cent by 2050 [3]. Efficiency is the only tool able to deliver rapid cuts in gas use, and renewables are already the fastest growing power source in the EU [4].

Greenpeace calls on G7 and European leaders to opt for true energy independence and stability with an ambitious renewables and efficiency plan which would massively cut energy imports [5]. Commitments to cut emissions and develop renewables and energy efficiency should be made in advance of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's climate change summit on 23 September this year.

ENDS

Contact:
Stephanie Brancaforte, Global Campaign Leader - Climate & Energy, +39 344 097 9622
Christina Koll, European Communications Manager, +45 281 09021
For images and video footage contact: Massimo Guidi, +39 348 681 1043,

Notes:
[1] European Commission, September 2012: Potential Risks for the Environment and Human Health Arising from Hydrocarbons Operations Involving Hydraulic Fracturing in Europe and Pöyry, November 2013: Macroeconomics of European shale gas production.
[2] Reuters, 28 February 2014: Finnish nuclear plant delayed again as Areva, TVO bicker.
[3] Commission staff working document, 22 January 2014: Impact assessment for a 2030 climate and energy policy framework.
[4] European Wind Energy Association, February 2014: Wind in power: 2013 European statistics.
[5] European Wind Energy Association, February 2014: Wind in power: 2013 European statistics.

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