On Wednesday the 8th of July, the European Commission has adopted two strategies to transform Europe’s energy system: the Energy System Integration and the Clean Hydrogen strategies.
The EU Strategy for Energy System Integration is said to provide the framework for the green energy transition, towards a more efficient and interconnected energy sector.
An important element is the proposal for the development of a comprehensive terminology for renewable and low carbon fuels, a sphere where ambiguity on CO2 input and output has allowed a delay of available actions in favour of wishful thinking and creative future accounting. This provides a relevant example of how system integration could add complexity that undermines climate action.
If the goal of this strategy is to create “the pathway towards an effective, affordable and deep decarbonisation of the European economy in line with the Paris Agreement”, then smart sector integration actions should directly and as a priority contribute to emission reductions in line with a net zero by 2050 pathway. As we underlined in our joint policy briefing Recycled Carbon Fuels in the Renewable Energy Directive : getting both terminology and accounting right will be crucial.
Bellona Europa has recommended the use of screening criteria and their respective metrics for the initial climate evaluation of EU Smart Sector Integration actions. We stand by our proposal and would like to recall our recommendations for this strategy:
- Efficient and ‘circular’ use of resources must result in a proved decrease of carbon flows to the atmosphere towards a net-zero calculation;
- Emissions from waste should be accounted for, particularly if the waste is of fossil origin and the net carbon flows to the atmosphere are still increasing;
- Selective life cycle assessment (LCA) (with narrow boundaries such as cradle-to-gate or gate-to-gate), allows for the CO2 emissions from the end-of-life phase of the product to be lost, giving the false impression that almost no GHGs will be emitted to the atmosphere – this has to be dealt with through honest accounting.