Our future lies with Renewables

This Solar boat visited some of the Mediterranean’s most important costal areas between 2010 - 2013.
© Miguel Murcia

Switching to renewable energies is the best choice to ensure that Europe beats its 21st century energy security challenge.  Moving away from fossil fuels to renewables will not only reduce the EU’s energy dependence on foreign imports of fossil fuels and gas, it will fight dangerous climate change, and boost much needed job creation in Europe’s economies.

A 100% renewable energy supply from sustainable sources by 2050 is vital.

Energy plays an integral role in our daily lives. Reliable and affordable energy services are essential for our whole economy. However, our use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, as a primary source of energy is not only environmentally unsustainable; it is also a waste of European citizens’ money. 

The good news is that renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, hydro-electric power, tidal power, geothermal energy and sustainable biomass, together with energy efficiency are mutually enforcing tools and, are a viable alternative to fossil fuels. By switching to renewable energy, we can protect our natural environment, achieve energy independence, secure our energy needs, empower citizens, and help avoid the dangerous consequences of global warming.

In 2008, the EU adopted the Renewable Energy Directive which requires 20% of the EU’s final energy consumption to be generated from renewable sources, by 2020.

Renewable energy in the EU has been a success story so far. All 28 Member States have been deploying renewable energy to reach their national efforts, and the EU is already on track to meet its 2020 target. The sector as a whole employs 1.2 million people in Europe alone, and Germany is home to 653,000 renewable energy colleagues, amounting to 70% of the sector’s jobs in Europe. The fantastic progress made so far, should have encouraged the EU to accomplish more.

Last year at the EU Summit in October 2014 the council conclusions outlined climate and energy targets, amounting to ‘’at least 27% renewable energy in final energy consumption, target’’ compared to baseline review of the target in 2020. WWF’s ask was for a 45% binding target. Ensuring that the EU’s 27% target is delivered upon will require a strong, transparent and reliable governance framework to be included within the legislative framework of this package. Currently the legislative framework for the EU’s 2030 climate and energy strategy is in development and should come into effect in 2021.

Further developments took place last year, when the European Commission announced its Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy (EUEU). [hyperlink to EU2030 & EUEU page] The EU Energy Union was created to align the energy efforts of the EU’s Member States in order to ensure energy security, and to empower citizens. It provides an opportunity to enshrine the realities of climate and energy within a forward looking policy document, which will empower citizens, secure our environment, and boost employment. Renewable energy must play a key role within this broader framework, and within countries’ own indigenous resources mix. Above all, the doors to shale-gas, clean coal with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) abatement technology, and nuclear energy options, need to be kept closed, to avoid lock-in of expensive and risky technologies.

Looking ahead, in order to continue with the amazing technology and market developments in renewables, we now need to ensure that this progress is enshrined within the 2030 energy and climate framework, and within the Energy Union, and also ensure that questions on how to implement and govern renewables commitments can be best answered.


  • Imke Luebbeke

    Head of Unit, EU Climate and Energy Policy

    WWF European Policy Office,

    +32 2 743 88 18


 Energy obtained from renewable sources is estimated to have accounted for 12.4 % of the EU’s overall energy consumption, but only to 2% at global level in 2010.

More than a third of electricity in the EU is anticipated to come from renewables by 2020.

Renewable energies and energy efficiency in YOUR neighbourhood

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Have you installed a solar energy system, a geothermal heatpump, or other renewable systems yourself? Or have you insulated your building to make it more energy efficient? Add your example to the map to make it visible and inspire others to take action as well. Each example is important!