EU pledges to 'make our planet great again'

The EU president said Europe will be the global leader when it comes to combating climate change.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Sept. 13, 2017 at 7:24 AM
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Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The EU president said in an annual address Wednesday that, with the United States stepping away, Europe will lead the global fight against climate change.

"I want Europe to be the leader when it comes to the fight against climate change," European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker said in the annual State of the Union address.

Economic growth in the EU has outpaced the United States over the last two years, with a gain in gross domestic product at about 2.2 percent so far. Unemployment, meanwhile, is at a nine-year low and, with more than 235 million people with a job in the European economy, Juncker said employment is at levels never before seen in the EU.

"Ten years since crisis struck, Europe's economy is finally bouncing back," he said.

The EU has embarked on an effort to advance a low-carbon economy and a secure energy sector through renewable energy avenues.

The British and French governments said this year they'd work toward a benchmark of banning the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from its roads beginning in 2040. For renewable energy, nine countries that share a border with the North Sea agreed last year to improve infrastructure to support offshore wind. Germany leads among European nations in terms of offshore wind energy growth, though Great Britain has more offshore wind capacity installed.

DNV GL, a Norwegian company providing risk management advice, said in an energy transition outlook that global demand for energy in general will level off by 2030 and then move lower as efficiency improves. For oil, demand peaks in 2022 because of the rise in the use of electric vehicles, though energy trends might not be enough to stave off the impacts of climate change.

Juncker said that it was Europe that set the rules of the game with the ratification of the multilateral Paris climate agreement. In an apparent swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign slogan of "Make America Great Again," Junker said it would be Europe that leads the way in the effort to combat climate change.

"Set against the collapse of ambition in the United States, Europe will ensure we make our planet great again," he said. "It is the shared heritage of all of humanity."

Trump's administration has taken the steps to leave the Paris climate agreement. Nevertheless, the U.S. energy sector has shown organic momentum for solar and wind energy. The U.S. Energy Department said some parts of the solar power sector, for example, reached benchmarks set by former President Barack Obama three years ahead of schedule.

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