Address to the Green Growth Summit

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Edward Davey's address to the Green Growth Summit, at the European Parliament in Brussels.


Next week, national leaders will gather together here in Brussels, to approve the EU’s energy framework for the next 15 years.

This will be a historic moment - the culmination of a lot of hard work – in the Council, the Commission, in the Parliament, in our home countries and with contributions from many in civil society and our European business community – including many here today.

We can be proud of making our Green Growth Group, and the wider Green Growth Platform, both successful and influential.

Within the Ministerial Group, we represent 75% of Europe’s population, 85% of Europe’s GDP and 60% of the votes in the Council of Ministers.

And we are here today to reaffirm our commitment to an ambitious 2030 energy and climate change framework.

A framework that will help guarantee Europe’s energy security

A framework that will help boost and safeguard economic growth

And a framework that has at its heart ambitious cuts to the carbon emissions that cause climate change.

A deal is near. I am confident it will happen. But my message today is a call, a rallying call for one final push.

We need this deal

So, the message that should come from this gathering today - heard loudly here in Brussels – to ring round the corridors of powers in our home nations – is this.

We need this agreement. Next week. No ifs, no buts, no delays. And I can say this as a British Minister, no vetoes. Europe needs this deal so we can give industry the certainty it needs for the huge investment we need - so we can upgrade and expand our energy infrastructure, at the lowest possible cost.

Europe needs this deal so we can send a clear message to Russia and the world: the EU will be reducing our energy imports. We will not be over-reliant for energy on any one country in the future. And we will not allow any country to use energy to bully any member of our union.

And we need this deal so that so Europe can continue to lead the world to a global climate change deal in Paris next year – and sustain the planet that sustains us.

Let me be clear.

We are not sacrificing our economies to deal with climate change.

Quite the opposite - going green means going for growth.

And being energy secure doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the planet in the process.

Quite the opposite – going low carbon means using our own natural sustainable resources for a better life, a safer life, a healthier life.

Ambitious But Flexible

That is why the UK Government has been arguing for an ambitious and binding domestic target for emissions reduction of at least 40%.

To ensure that growths reaches all parts of the low carbon landscape and to ensure we don’t block new technologies from the market, we want all member states to have the flexibility to invest in the best energy mix that works for them.

No realistic scenario I have seen relies on just one silver bullet. Or even two.

We need to use all the weapons in our arsenal to fight climate change – and to bring emissions down.

Renewables, nuclear, carbon capture, energy efficiency – and yes even indigenous gas as a bridge to the future.

Getting it right across the whole of the EU is important.

But meeting each member states’ individual needs also matters.

Energy Security

First, we have to be sensitive to the emphasis some member states put on energy security, particularly with the difficult situation with the current Russian leadership.

Energy Security is a key concern for a lot of countries, including for us in the UK. But there is a real problem for those member states who are over-reliant on a country that is increasingly aggressive in its wider behaviour to its neighbours and who seems to see energy supplies as a potential arm of the state, to be used for political purposes, separate from market economics.

The UK wants to see the EU develop a robust approach to such energy securitychallenges.

And we should recognise the fortunate reality, that the policies and investments we need for improving energy security are the policies and investments Europe needs for tackling climate change.

So we should use all the tools at our disposal that both cut emissions and cut our exposure to external energy supplies.

That means developing further and faster a fully functioning internal market in energy thatmoves gas and electricity around wherever it is needed. Where individual member states do not and cannot block the development of a European electricity and gas grid, for narrow, short termist reasons.

It means ensuring all Member States have the option to use all of the low carbon and energy efficient technologies available to them.

And it means that if coal is going to play any part at all inEurope’s future energy , it must be with carbon, capture and storage, so we have to focus on deploying CCS, as the US and Chinese are doing right now.

A Fair Deal for All

But beyond energy security, we also know some colleagues round the council table have concerns about the 2030 package. We hear those concerns and hold out a friendly hand.

We want to work with you to find a package that you want to sign up to. And yes that is going to be tough. It is going to cost money, but the political will is there, the momentum is there so it can and must be achieved.

But to our friends who are yet to be convinced we also say you have to be reasonable. All countries are in a tough economic situation.

There isn’t a pot of gold we can give you. But what we can do is create structures that can help you modernise your energy infrastructure, insulate your homes – that will keep the lights on, bills down and cut carbon emissions. This has to be a win win for us all.

But the bottom line is this.

Going low carbon is no longer a ‘nice to have’, It is now a necessity.

Necessary for the planet – and necessary for Europe’s economies.

Let me explain why.

Pivotal moment

Global emissions are on track to be, by 2020, someway short of the most cost effective pathway for keeping climate change to below the 2 degree rise the scientists judge is needed to avoid the most catastrophic effects.

And if we do not reach agreement in Paris the vector of action needed becomes increasingly steep with each passing year;

And the economic cost increasingly expensive.

The EU is a trading bloc – open within, but outward looking to.

Our prosperity is inextricably linked to world markets.

More extreme climate change impacts in other parts of the world – from food and water shortages – to the mass migration of people fleeing the worst effects – these are our problem too.

And they will cost us dearly.

But the impact will not just be economic.

We will be less safe, less secure.

I’m glad that this morning we have Jamie Shea from NATO talking to us.

The implications of climate change for this continents strategic security are profound.

The expected impacts of climate change will be integrated into the UK’s next strategic defence and security review, expected next summer, just before the Paris conference.

And the Paris conference is a pivotal moment.

It’s not quite the world’s last hope.

And it won’t be the end of the story.

But failure in Paris would see our chances of limiting climate change to manageable levels sink and the costs of doing so rocket.

Historically the EU has been one of the world’s leading advocates of climate change action.

And has been living up to its reputation by exceeding its Kyoto obligations with emissions set to reduce by more than 20% by 2020.

The challenge for Europe is to maintain its course.

Because we are no longer going it alone.

We are now entering an era of low carbon competition.

Carbon markets – which can reduce the cost of emissions reduction – have now been put in place in over 40 countries – and it is happening at sub-national level as well – counties, states, local governments are acting.

Here the UK Government has long called for reform and strengthening of the EU ETS. The sooner reform takes place, the sooner the System’s effectiveness as a driver for the investment we need will be restored.

I expect to be able to announce the UK’s position on the Market Stability Reserve shortly. But I am clear that the ambitious position taken by Germany for an early introduction is the right approach. So I am keen to work with you all to strengthen the proposal and ensure it can put the EU ETS back on the right track.

And when it comes to green growth, Europe needs to get our act together, because other key global players are. ,

Investment in renewables has outpaced investment in fossil fuels for the fourth year running.

China is already the world’s largest non-fossil fuel energy producer.

The United States has doubled the amount of renewable energy it produces in recent years, creating 80,000 new jobs in the clean energy sector last year alone.

Business is increasingly seeing the opportunity of a burgeoning global green marketplace that is worth trillions of pounds and growing all the time.

So the challenge for Europe is not so much to maintain its lead, but to avoid falling behind.

And this is the core argument we have been making here at these Green Growth summits.

Going green is actually going for growth.

I am delighted that we have Jeremy Opennheim speaking to us later today, one of the brains behind the brilliant New Climate Economy study which spells out, once and for all, that a smart low carbon transition will improve the quality of growth and deliver a raft of net economic benefits to our economies.

But the report is also clear that to achieve this, we must provide consistent and credible policy signals if businesses and investors are to create jobs, growth and innovation.

This is why the agreeing the 2030 framework is so essential. If the EU adopts the ambitious 2030 Framework that we expect, Europe will cement its place as the low carbon capital of the world.

Fail, and we sacrifice our future prosperity, our future competitiveness, to others who embrace low carbon economies more quickly and successfully than Europe.

Fail, and we send a signal to Putin, that Russia can continue to flex her muscles and continue to use her energy resources as a political and economic weapon.

Fail, and we miss the opportunity to influence the USA, China, India and the rest of the world, as they prepare their plans to cut their greenhouse gas emissions ahead of their UN announcements before March next year.

Reaching Out

But delivering a prosperous, low carbon and sustainable future for Europe does not start and end with an agreement on the 2030 package.
Far from it!

Colleagues, we need to work with you, the business leaders, experts, opinion-formers and European politicians, all of you, if we are to design and deliver the smart, modern, competitive and clean future that Europe needs and deserves.

If we are to overcome the voices of cynicism and to demonstrate, as the New Climate Economy study has done so well, that climate ambition and economic growth can work hand-in-hand.

That’s why the Green Growth Group of Ministers asked Sandrine and her team to set up this Green Growth Platform that is hosting us here today, bringing together businesses and experts to work together to explore, promote and pursue a low carbon, green and prosperous future.

We are extremely grateful to all of you who have put time and effort into the work of the Platform so far and I hope to continue and expand our collaboration in the future.

That’s also why we are delighted that a new, cross-party and cross-nationality MEPs’ Green Growth Group is being launched today.

Because the commitment and hard work of the European Parliament is indispensable to this endeavour and we very much look forward to working with you over the coming months and years.

We hope that this will pave the way for a new, open, informed and collaborative dialogue between Ministers, MEPs, businesses and experts about how to meet the low carbon transition challenges we face.


But turning back to 2030 colleagues, let us take the message back to our national negotiating teams that we want an ambitious 2030 framework in 8 days time.

A deal that provides certainty.

A deal that guarantees Europe’s secure low carbon energy future.

A deal that unleashes low carbon growth.

And let’s here that same message loud and clear from the business community.

From national parliamentarians, European parliamentarians, who represent the interests of citizens across our continent.

Now is the time.