Europe’s Missing Green Vision

THE HAGUE – European heads of state, energy ministers, and the European Union are actively debating climate and energy policy at a series of summits in the coming weeks. If the decisions they take are to matter, the leaders must work to understand the changing nature of such policies – and the enormous opportunity that they must seize.

Energy can be a key driver of European competitiveness and the transition to a low-carbon economy, benefiting European businesses and citizens alike. But realizing this promise requires European leaders to provide a vision and act decisively now.

While the developed world may still be wrestling with the fallout of the financial crisis, most emerging economies are already back on a strong growth track. China posted nearly 10% growth in 2010; India was close behind, at 8%. Much of that remarkable economic performance is built on the industries of the low-carbon future.

Against this backdrop, should our leaders focus on energy policy from a narrow, nationalist perspective? Or should they connect the dots and frame a vision of a Europe that can compete in a global economy where resource efficiency, clean energies, and low-carbon prosperity are the ingredients of success? The future of economic growth is low-carbon growth, so Europe has a stark choice.