BRUSSELS Feb 10 European utilities will not
reduce their investments in renewables if U.S. President Donald
Trump lowers U.S. climate goals, encouraged by Chinese and EU
political commitments to low carbon energy, electricity lobby
Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to bolster the U.S. oil,
gas and coal industries, said during the campaign he would pull
the United States out of a global pact reached in Paris in 2015
to cut greenhouse gases, although he has not yet acted on that
"If the U.S. fundamentally changes course it will become an
element of the debate in Europe," Kristian Ruby, secretary
general of Europe's electricity industry association
Eurelectric, told Reuters.
However, he said the falling cost of renewable sources such
as wind and solar power and the needs of companies to spread
their risk should lead to sustained investment in renewables.
EU officials have stood by their commitment to fight global
warming, but fear that a leadership vacuum created by a U.S.
change of heart would embolden those within the bloc seeking to
slow their efforts.
Poland, which sees the EU's drive against global warming as
a menace to its coal-powered energy industry, is threatening to
challenge a draft EU climate law in court, EU documents seen by
Faced with a U.S. retreat from international efforts to
tackle climate change, EU officials are looking to China as an
ally in the campaign.
"We are also seeing some clear signals out of China that
they will stay the course so we don't see any need to rock the
boat on this issue," Ruby said.
The rise of renewables and slumping power demand in recent
years has crushed fossil fuel margins and forced many utilities
to rethink their strategy.
But Ruby said traditional energy generating methods such as
coal would continue to play a role in Europe's energy mix, even
as renewables were set to rise to 50 percent by 2030.
"We care about emissions going down, rather than the actual
split between those technologies," Ruby said.
Eurelectric called on EU lawmakers to take measures to
strengthen the bloc's emission trading system (ETS), which
charges power plants and factories for every tonne of carbon
dioxide (CO2) they emit.
EU lawmakers are due to vote next week on draft reforms of
the market that will reduce the share of free carbon permits
handed out after 2020 as part of an effort to fix oversupply in
the market and boost prices.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Alissa de
Carbonnel and Adrian Croft)