EU's Piebalgs urges carbon-free energy, subsidies for poor

European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the EU has "an absolute obligation to future generations to move to clean, carbon-free energy sources for heat, power, and transport due to climate change."

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, June 23 -- In a declaration to the European Parliament June 18 that "the era of cheap energy is over," European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said, "We have an absolute obligation to future generations to move to clean, carbon-free energy sources for heat, power, and transport due to climate change."

The European Commission's recent climate and energy package represents "a good start," Piebalgs said, as a long-term approach to this challenge, and it points the EU's energy policies in the right direction.

But more must be done, he said. The commission intends to pursue a constructive dialogue between the primary oil-producing and consuming countries, scrutinize the functioning of the oil and petroleum markets in the EU, and take further action regarding transparency of oil stocks, he said. It also will assist developing oil-importing countries to mitigate the "short-term impacts of high fuel and food prices and bring about structural improvements in their energy-efficiency performance and use of alternative fuels."

The EC, Piebalgs said, would lead an increased drive for energy efficiency, "my highest priority for the remainder of this commission."

Piebalgs said biofuels must be part of the EU's response to the challenge of high oil prices and climate change, providing they "complement food production, not replace it."

Concerning short-term steps to mitigate the impact of high oil prices on "the most vulnerable groups," he advocated supporting the poorest households in a manner that "should promote a transition to higher oil prices." But he warned against changes in the oil taxation regime, saying it "only makes the longer term transition to dealing with high energy prices more difficult."

"There is an energy future for all of us," he said. "This future will most likely be organized around different patterns of production, consumption, and behavior."

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