Sunday 23. January 2022
#137 - April 2011


Promoting a low carbon economy


At a joint summit organised by the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council, Prince Charles made a strong appeal for a low carbon economy.


The interest in promoting these low carbon economies among the member states of the European Union lay behind the organisation of a summit in Brussels, hosted by President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Commission, Jose-Manuel Barroso and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. The three presidents participated in a one-day conference that brought together some of the leading experts on climate change, including Sir Nicholas Stern author of one of the most authoritative reports on the economics of climate change, and prominent figures from the energy sector.


But the keynote speaker of the Conference was the UK's Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who is well known, among many other charity initiatives for his engagement with ecology and his promotion of a healthy environment. The popular figure of Prince Charles promised to be effective in attracting media attention, as in fact happened. Prince Charles emphasised the need to shift economies towards lower carbon usage and to realise the strong inherent links between the resilience of ecosystems and that of national economies. He stressed the need "to move away from the conventional economic model of growth which is based on the production of high carbon intensity products", even if he also wished to keep open a pragmatic position adding that this option should also ensure Europe's competitiveness. He also promoted "integrated reporting" as an instrument for companies that reflects the interconnections between environmental, social, governance and financial factors in decisions that affect long-term performance providing financial and non-financial information.


While Mr. Buzek underlined the importance of innovation and new technologies, Mr. Barroso also stressed the need for a more efficient use of resources. But he also wanted to show that is possible to both to achieve growth and to keep  greenhouse gas emissions under control when the stated that: "Since 1990, we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by more than 10 percent, while our economies have grown by about 40 percent". Mr. Barroso also underlined the need to achieve a clear and stable legal framework in the energy sector for investors, insisting that a low-carbon economy can become a real opportunity for companies. Mr. Van Rompuy, called for a "revolution in energy systems," emphasising the need to invest in energy savings, smart grids and smart meters, adding that "we must use less energy". Van Rompuy stressed the need to combine national and EU action in order "to achieve synergies and economies of scale".


These positive messages were balanced during the Conference with presentations that showed the current inconsistencies in the legal systems of the EU and the member states regarding energy production and efficiency; the multiple interests at stake, often conflicting ; and the volume of investment needed to achieve significant effects that (depending on the source relied on) could mean from 2 up to 6% of global GDP. Difficult decisions and divergent pressures confront our leaders.


José Ignacio García Jimenez SJ

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