ENVS 426

Towards a 100% Renewable Future for the European Union


20% Savings from Energy Efficiency.

20% Rise in Renewable Generation.

20% Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

WOW, i’m impressed. If you are just thinking “woah that’s a lot of 20s…”, let me break it down for you. The European Union, comprised of 28 member states, has committed to making ALL THREE of those amazing goals a reality.

All by 2020. That’s just two years from now.

To be honest, while I was in attendance at COP 23, I wished I was representing a university in Europe rather than the United States. It makes me slightly embarrassed to say I live in a country whose President doesn’t even believe in climate change, especially when I am speaking with delegates from countries that have made such impressive strides in climate progress.

The infographic below illustrates the timeline of EU energy policy from the creation of energy taxation to protect the EU energy market in 2013 up to the Paris Agreement in 2015.

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You have to be impressed by the European Union’s climate commitments. Their governance structure is very compatible with achieving these energy goals. If you have not already read my previous blog post describing policy diffusion in the European Union, I would highly suggest you do so before continuing.

The EU is a cooperative federalist system, meaning that responsibility for governance is shared between the state, local, and federal level.  This structure eases climate policy diffusion between member states, by creating opportunities for collaboration across the 28 EU member states.

As you can see in the infographic, the EU is already doing dozens of amazing things for climate policy. However, the EU often struggles with policy-making in isolation, which inhibits diffusion.

In my research, I noticed that member states struggle with transparency and silos across public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Though I am just student, not a policy-maker or an expert by any means, I offer some recommendations to overcome some of these barriers and enhance cooperation between member states in order to accelerate the transition to clean energy.


 These 6 solutions were created in the spirit of providing opportunities for member states to work together and share information. They intend to overcome silos between sectors, in order to increase ambition to achieve renewable energy targets. 

  1. Institutionalize an annual meeting to convene energy and environmental ministers
  2. Set up a five-year mentor/ mentee system, referred to as the Renewable Energy Accelerator program
  3. Establish a virtual platform to monitor renewable energy deployment across member states
  4. Incorporate the interests of civil society by developing an institution devoted to representing the interests of environmental NGOs
  5. Create an opportunity for member states to earn recognition through a Sustainable Development Goal certification process

The European Union serves as a inspirational model for other nations that aspire to deliver on their promises within the context of the Paris Agreement. Policy diffusion is one of the least costly and most effective ways of addressing the salient global threat of climate change. Though it has its flaws, the EU has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy policy formulation and provides an excellent example of the crucial role that policy diffusion can play in enhancing renewable energy generation. Moving forward, using the aforementioned solutions to eliminate barriers to policy diffusion is a critical step towards enabling member states to make the shift to a future powered by 100% renewable energy.


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