Political acrimony might rule the day in the United States, but Europe is forging ahead with plans for renewed investment in alternative energy.
Earlier this week, the Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger laid out a bold vision for Europe’s energy future: the creation of a single European energy market to combat climate change. Oettinger proposed a trillion-euro energy investment plan (1.38 trillion US dollars) to fund the creation of new technologies and infrastructure improvements.
In comparison, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invested only $100 billion into renewable energy and energy efficiency. State and local governments have also provided tax credits to homeowners and small businesses.
The U.S House of Representatives passed a climate change bill last June, which is designed to encourage private investment by putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions and requiring utilities to generate 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources within a decade. The Senate failed to pass its own version of the bill.
Opponents argued that the bill would hamper U.S. competitiveness, eliminate jobs, and place a nearly $3,000 annual energy "tax" on the average household. However, the Congressional Budget Office found that the cost to households would be a little over US$100 per year, and that the law would reduce the Federal deficit.
Oettinger called for a unified front, comparing Europe's current system to "...19th century dukedoms rather than a modern open Europe," the AFP reports. EU members will deliberate on the plan at its February 4, 2011 energy summit.
The EU also took more immediate action. European lawmakers announced today the allocation of approximately US$200 million to fund renewable energy projects throughout the continent, UPI reports. The funds will be disbursed to local and regional authorities before March, 2014.
The projects will increase the use of renewable energy in public in private buildings, as well as to fund cleaner transportation solutions. Funding can be traced to US$5.5 billion European Energy Recovery Plan, which was adopted by the European Commission in Nov. 2010.