On December 11th the European Commission published a roadmap to improve the well-being of its citizens and achieve climate neutrality while protecting people and their natural habitat: the long-awaited communication on the European Green Deal (EGD). This high-level document outlines a strategy to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent in the world. This will require to step up the ambition and make faster changes, also considering that according to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), Europe is not on track to meet most of its 2020 and 2030 objectives. But what is the European Green Deal?
Way beyond climate issues, a new path for economic growth
The Green Deal goes way beyond climate change issues and presents a new growth strategy to improve the European society and make it resource-efficient and competitive. Therefore, the EGD communication does not focus only on energy or climate matters, but it takes a comprehensive approach and offers a broader framework including: climate and biodiversity, building and renovation, sustainable industry and mobility, and more (for more information find here a detailed infographic for each element of the EGD). The overall goal of the Green Deal is to raise the ambition and make Europe a global leader in tackling climate change while bringing new jobs and promote business around Europe. The EGD will foster the economic growth, making this the beginning of a common path which doesn’t leave anyone (region or people) behind in a thriving society.
How all this will be financed?
Together with the EGD, the Commission also published the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to mobilise at least €1 trillion over a period of 10 years combining European and national budgets, public and private investments, and support from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other financial institutions. Within this Sustainable Investment Plan, particular attention has been given to the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM), which will activate at least €100 billion to support all regions and sectors, without leaving anyone behind and making the transition not just environmentally sustainable but also socially fair. Find all the details regarding the Just Transition Mechanism in the dedicated infographic.
Which role for the building sector?
The EGD also foresees a new “renovation wave” to double (at least) the current rate of building renovations, given that this sector accounts for 40% of the energy consumed in Europe. The Commission will launch an open platform, the new Renovation Initiative, to bring together different actors involved in the building sector and improve innovative financing, promote energy efficiency and help European citizens in keeping their homes warm. Digitalisation and a strict enforcement of rules for energy performance of buildings are also part of the plan. Find more in the EU infographic on buildings.
What’s at stake? Timing and next steps for the implementation
As mentioned before, the Green Deal is the political framework to guide Europe through the energy transition and a new economic growth, now additional measures will follow and will need to be implemented to make this effective. One of the key issues at stake will be the financing of the EGD and how the JTM will actually work. Another key policy file will be the European Climate Law, which is expected to be published in March, and for which an online consultation is currently open until February 6th. The Commission is also expected to open a consultation on the Climate Pact by end of February. Finally, one of the next relevant initiatives will be the one on Smart Energy Integration. The commission is discussing it internally through a concerted action and is likely to open a consultation in March to prepare the publication of a communication on this topic in June. Find the indicative calendar for the upcoming policy files here.
What is still unclear and which contribution the solar thermal sector can bring?
What is still unclear with the EGD is if it will really drive a higher ambition on climate and energy issues, while keeping the European society prosperous. The communication recognises a certain urgency and the need to act towards higher targets, setting a tight timeline for the above listed initiatives. The question is whether these legislative changes will be properly and quickly implemented, and how the European businesses and citizens will react.
What the solar thermal sector can bring in this context is best case examples of smart integration, starting with public buildings as hospitals, schools, social housing or students’ buildings using solar heat systems and paving the way, by example, to further deploy renewables in heating and cooling. Please provide us as soon as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org. A priority deadline will be the end of January, but we will also accept additional inputs in the future
 €1Trillion = €1 x 1012 or a million million or a thousand billion (1,000,000,000,000)