Busting The Myth Of A ‘Green Europe’

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For much of the world, Europe seems like the poster child for responsible renewable energy policies. Unlike the U.S., which is embracing shale oil and natural gas, Europe has made little progress in developing alternative fossil fuel supplies. Part of that is due to geography, but part of it is surely due to the high level of concern for the environment as well.

While China and India continue to suffer from substantial pollution issues, Europe is for the most part a green-continent and one that is constantly pushing the envelope with environmental policies like its emissions trading system. At least that is the perception.

The reality of the situation is more nuanced, and it reflects the difficulty that renewable energy will face in pushing out fossil fuels. The challenges faced by renewables even in environmentally-friendly Europe suggest it could take decades or perhaps even a century or more before renewables completely displace fossil fuels. The latest EU Tracking Roadmap, which details progress being made by European countries towards their modest renewable energy goals of 2020, illustrates this difficulty.

At this point in 2015, only about half of the EU countries have clearly achieved their 2013 renewable energy generation targets. Among those member states who have not achieved their targets are Britain, France, and Spain. Further, most major European countries are not expected to achieve their 2020 goals on time. The list of countries expected to fail includes Germany, Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands among others.

Now Europe is actually falling behind much of the rest of the world on renewable energy goals. In 2014, investment in renewables in India was up 14 percent, and investment levels were up 8 percent in the U.S. By contrast, investment in renewables in Europe rose just 1 percent. Europe is not filing clean energy patents at the same rate as the U.S., Japan, or China, and it’s not clear when the continent will start to get serious about investing in renewables again.

A major part of the reluctance here is certainly due to the Euro Crisis. As Greece struggles to avoid catastrophic economic melt-down and the rest of the continent wonders about fallout and contagion, it is easy to put off renewable energy investments and spend the money elsewhere.

Full article: Busting The Myth Of A ‘Green Europe’ (Oil Price)

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