Prime Minister Solberg

Ladies and Gentlemen

Over a year ago we presented the European Green Deal to a world that was very different to the one that we know today. The health crisis, which is still not over, is followed by the worst economic recession since World War II. The pandemic is teaching us a harsh lesson about our own fragility as humans. But it’s a lesson we must heed if we are to come out of this crisis stronger, and ready to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises already on our doorstep.

 

The Green Deal is our new strategy for sustainable growth, based on fairness, innovation, and decoupled from resource use. It is our roadmap for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050 and for addressing the biodiversity crisis. And as we build back our economy, we also need to build back our nature, because forests and oceans are being polluted and destroyed.

When we first presented the Green Deal, it was relatively lonely on the world stage. But more than one year later, we are joined by many others in this global race to net zero.

China, South Korea, South Africa, Japan, and most recently the United States, are joining with ambitious commitments of their own. That is great news. Because this is a race where we can all win.

 

But we still run the risk of it all slipping through our fingers. Of easing back into business-as-usual, simply because it is the comfortable thing to do. Recent IEA figures show that Co2-emissions are already back at pre-pandemic levels.

So the urgency of acting on our commitments is high.

 

The EU is setting the stage for a recovery based on green and digital transition. With our new long-term budget and a recovery fund, the EU will have 1.8 trillion euros to bounce back from the crisis and restart the European economy. 30% of those funds must go to climate action, and none of the spending may cause any significant harm. Earlier this month, we found agreement on the European Climate Law. The law makes meeting our target of at least 55% emissions reductions by 2030 a legal obligation, and is an extra push to set in motion the necessary changes.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is no vaccine for the climate or biodiversity crisis.

But there is a way out.

And our launch pad to a better future for our children and our grand children is the energy sector.

 

Energy is responsible for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. There is no credible path to climate neutrality without deep decarbonisation of our energy system. This will require an unprecedented investment in clean energy; in renewable power generation, hydrogen production, building refurbishment, electric cars, new train connections and low-carbon industrial processes.  But these investments will pay back and will bring new jobs and a more sustainable market for our goods and know-how overseas.

 

The decarbonisation of our energy system will follow two parallel tracks:

  • First – we need to be more energy efficient. Over the next years Europe will massively invest in building renovation and a better sourcing of heat. We must reduce our energy bills and leave no molecule or electron to waste. EU funds, with Next Generation EU, are a real opportunity to step up our efforts.
  • Second – we need to move away from fossil fuels. Coal phase-out is already advancing very fast, and it will only accelerate as alternatives are cheaper than ever before. By 2050, the role of gas and oil will be marginal. But fossil fuels need to be replaced. We need to connect new sectors to clean electricity. And, where this is not feasible, we will promote renewable and low-carbon fuels such as hydrogen. Above all we have to integrate sectors - power generation, buildings, transport and industry - into one energy system.

 

This is in many ways a herculean task. But it is feasible. Your sector is a crucial partner, as electrification will play a huge role.

 

In 2050, electricity should meet around half of our energy demand. It is one quarter today.

But to get there, the pace of electrification should quadruple already now, in the next decade. In transport alone, by 2030 the share of electricity should be three times what it is today!

In the next ten years, Europe needs to double its renewables capacity. We will move from 420 gigawatts in 2020 to 840 gigawatts by 2030.

We will also need unprecedented investments in grid reinforcement to connect new wind farms, the new fleet of electric cars, and electrolysers to produce renewable hydrogen. This requires more cross-border connections in the EU and with our neighbours, smarter and more digital grids, and a greater role for individual Europeans sharing their self-produced electricity on the grid.

So we’ll need to jump higher than we have ever jumped before. The good news is that there are also immense opportunities. For investments, economic growth, and jobs. Making this jump will mean an advancement for everyone in Europe.

 

The scale of the change we will see is comparable to the jump we made when James Watt invented the steam engine. Fossil fuels have been the backbone of Europe’s growth since the 18th century. But in this new industrial revolution renewables are taking over. They already produce the cheapest power humanity has ever seen. Regardless of the energy mix today, that’s a pretty good starting point if you ask me.

 

Europe is ready to move beyond commitments and targets. We are now working on delivering the necessary changes.

This Summer we will present a number of proposals to meet our 55% emissions reduction target and make our legislative framework Fit for 55.  

We have to shift the whole of our economy into higher gear. So we are leaving no stone unturned. Fit for 55 will align our laws with our ambition. We will strengthen the EU Emissions Trading System, update the Energy Taxation Directive, and propose new Co2-standards for cars, new energy efficiency standards for buildings, new targets for renewables, and new ways of supporting clean fuels and infrastructure for clean transport. We are also looking at possibly expanding the emissions trading system to new sectors, such as road transport, buildings, and maritime navigation. On the top of this, the new carbon border adjustment mechanism will help us prevent carbon leakage instead of outsourcing our emissions.

In large part, this package builds on legislation that is tested, proven, and effective in bringing down emissions. Overall, it signals a shift towards stronger carbon pricing across the economy.

This will mean a more level playing field for all fuels and ending the relative disadvantage for electricity. We need to make sure that we use our new resources wisely to help build an economy that is socially just and helps the most vulnerable families to benefit from this transition.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

For the Green Deal to succeed we have to think about our planet and our economy as one system. We can no longer work to fix the climate and let biodiversity and our forests down. We can no longer look at each sector of the economy in isolation.

Electricity is the agent of change in all of the big challenges we are now facing. It is a key ingredient, and an accelerator, for clean transport, for zero emission buildings and for low-carbon industrial processes.

And not just in Europe. There are immense opportunities to work with our partners, for instance in Africa. We can make electricity access a universal good and do it well before 2030. Over 600 million people on our sister continent Africa still live without any access to electricity today. So let’s think about electrification as our common goal, whatever the starting point. The European power industry has an important role to play and I’d like to work with you to get these investments going.

Our vision for the power sector is a more integrated European economy that is powered by decarbonised electricity and that enables us to live within the boundaries of nature. This is how we maintain a planet that allows us and future generations to thrive.

Thank you very much for your attention. I look forward to working with you on our common quest towards a green, just, and healthy future.