The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has forced Germany to drastically revise priorities for its EU Council Presidency. However, the country and its green ambitions are perfectly positioned to undertake this role in what is a time of unbelievable crisis and, most crucially, recovery.
The European response to the Covid-19 pandemic is the German Council Presidency's top priority. Climate policy, which includes the European Green Deal and the digital transformation, is also key.
The question is what lessons European politics will glean from the situation? Will the pandemic push politicians to shape a green recovery? Will economic recovery also mean green recovery?
Any program and action plan must combine the economy with climate solutions. If this happens, we will emerge triumphantly from the crisis. The conditions for doing so have never been better: we have lower carbon emissions and cleaner air; even wildlife appears to be recovering. This is an extraordinary starting point for a better, more sustainable future.
A few weeks ago, the first draft program of Germany’s EU Presidency caused disappointment. It contained no concrete goals for a Green Deal, while new initiatives were only mentioned for hydrogen. Hopefully this will now change. At least the German Government is pushing for a “green recovery” in its EU Council Presidency.
But is this a positive sign or just empty words?
Sharp expects Brussels to execute a strong Green Deal. There are so many options to execute it effectively. Introducing an installation duty for PV on new buildings and for restoration is just one example of how positive progress can be made.
The crisis ought to shape a better foundation for more ambitious green actions and better results. Europe has a central responsibility, considering its position as one of the most important economic centers of the world, and with the third-highest greenhouse gas emissions. We must now take the chance to close the gap between the Paris Agreement, which details a commitment to keep warming within a 1.5-2 ° Celsius range, and the current contributions.
An initial evaluation of 15 submitted climate plans by environmental organizations concluded that only five countries increased climate goals within the new National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). Currently, only Denmark would fulfill the commitments of Paris Agreement with its climate program.
Germany presented its national climate plan to the EU Commission six months late and with only a few new targets. The share of renewable energy in the total energy consumption should be increased to 30%. For electricity, this sounds good, but more than a 40% share has already been achieved. On the other hand, Germany has lifted the 52 GW PV cap, the wind controversy has been resolved, a hydrogen strategy has been developed, and €30 billion have reserved for climate protection in its covid-19 economic package.
What has Sharp, as a consumer brand, to do with all of this? The division Sharp Energy Solutions Europe has been headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, since 1994. Based on “Increasing green shared value,” the company established its environmental policy in fiscal 2013. Based on its Basic Environmental Policy of “Creating an Environmentally Conscious Company with Sincerity and Creativity”, the Sharp Eco Vision 2050 was unveiled.. Among others, it seeks to minimize the environmental impact caused by greenhouse gases, waste, and other by-products from its business.
Bottom up and top down must go hand in hand to succeed. Being proactive as an end consumer, a company and as politicians, locally and internationally, is the key to success. We want to belong to a climate change-driven industry in a positive sense, and take responsibility for it as we all have to be pro-active. But we also need the right political support to survive this extraordinary crisis.
The numerous initiatives on local level are remarkable. An increasing number of European cities are reshaping policies, so people will live and work in in a better climate in a world which is currently transformed by the virus. Less traffic, more bicycles, more efficient buildings and a better energy infrastructure are part of the plans.
It is now time to fundamentally change the way we power our industry and households, how we travel, do business and produce food and goods – simply how we live!
About the author
Peter Thiele has worked for Sharp since 1996. In 2003, he became general manager of the solar group for Germany and Austria. Thiele is also a member of the board of the German Solar Industry Association.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.
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