Renewable energies and the environment
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 25 June 2009 (25th Sitting) (see Doc. 11918, report of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture
and Local and Regional Affairs, rapporteur: Mr Le Grand). Text adopted by the Assembly on
25 June 2009 (25th Sitting).
1. The current
energy system, characterised by the excessive consumption of fossil
fuels, is increasingly unable to solve the problems of energy supply.
The supply structures of conventional sources of energy are increasingly
at odds with society’s needs for accessible and clean energy.
2. The Parliamentary Assembly would therefore like to see measures
for sustainable restructuring of the energy system taken as rapidly
as possible and energy generation brought back into line with the
requirements of lasting energy security and environmental protection.
3. This restructuring of the energy system should be aimed at
making renewable energies rapidly and comprehensively available.
The use of solar-, wind- and hydro-power and geothermal energy has
no limits in real terms and does not create any consumption costs.
In addition, if these energies are used in a sustainable fashion,
they do not trigger any damaging environmental effects. The same
applies to biomass, provided it is produced in a sustainable way
and without competition with food needs. Renewable energies also
mean long-term energy security, since they allow for domestic sources
to be used. In addition, transnational networks and supply structures
are only needed to a small degree.
4. One of the decisive economic and social factors which makes
the use of renewable energies vital is the fact that they can be
used on a decentralised basis. A large number of small and medium-sized
installations will, together, provide the energy needed for a whole
society. The decentralised structure of the system, involving many
different players, will allow a lively market to develop. A system
based on renewable energies therefore offers an opportunity to break
down the current monopoly structures on the energy markets.
5. The increasing energy-related crises – the climate crisis,
the energy dependency crisis, the poverty crisis, nuclear threats,
the water crisis and the health crisis – demonstrate clearly that
rapid action is needed if change is to be shaped politically and
socially. Any further delay would only mean that the crises over
energy and the conflicts over distribution of the remaining resources,
with their associated social costs, would continue to escalate until
they became impossible to manage.
6. The Assembly believes that measures such as tax exemptions,
tax reductions or favourable feed-in tariffs should be taken in
order to make renewable energy installations as profitable as possible,
without negative impacts on the environment. These measures would
also ensure that the construction of renewable energy plants is
not subject to − often excessively lengthy − bureaucratic procedures.
The construction of such plants should be regarded as a priority.
Indeed, such plants make it possible to avoid the social costs
of the energy crisis and compensate for the subsidies and privileges
that have been granted to conventional energies for decades, which
led to their dominant market position. The only alternative to this
privileged position for renewables would be full internalisation
of the external costs of conventional energies in energy prices.
The principles of environmental accounting should be applied to
take into account the full cost of environmental damage caused by conventional
non-renewable energy systems. In this respect, the Assembly recalls
its Recommendation 1653 (2004)
on environmental accounting as a sustainable development
8. The Assembly also believes that, to ensure the success of
all these measures, consideration must be given to the setting up
of an agency with the objective of promoting worldwide the use of
renewable energies. This agency could, inter
alia, provide advice on the implementation of national
renewable energy policies and assistance with technology transfer
in the field of renewable energies, thus enhancing skills and knowledge
on renewable energies. It could also collect all existing, sound
The Assembly therefore asks the Committee of Ministers to
call on Council of Europe member states to:
9.1 take the necessary measures for profitable large-scale
use of renewable energies (tax exemptions, tax reductions or favourable
9.2 organise the energy markets of the Council of Europe member
states in a non-discriminatory fashion and take the necessary measures
to guarantee equal access to distribution networks for all energy
9.3 ensure that the conditions applied to energy suppliers
when granting access to networks, regardless of their owners, are
9.4 grant tax relief or tax exemptions on agrofuels of the
second and subsequent generations in order to ensure their competitiveness
with fossil fuels in the transition period until broad market penetration has
9.5 give clear priorities in territorial planning law to allow
the setting aside of locations for the generation of renewable energies,
regardless of the kind of energy to be produced;
9.6 seek to ensure that public and private buildings, especially
those under construction, are adapted to the use of renewable energies
and set up programmes to support the use of renewable energies in existing
9.7 use fossil energies as effectively as possible during
the transition period;
9.8 modernise conventional power plants in order to allow
cogeneration, which would offer the prospect of a 100% gain in energy
9.9 support the establishment of the International Renewable
Energy Agency (IRENA) with the objective of promoting the use of
renewable energies worldwide;
9.10 run large-scale information and advertising campaigns
on renewable energies in order to overcome people’s reservations
and encourage private investors to invest in these sources of energy;
9.11 promote research in order to develop new renewable energies
and improve the efficiency of existing ones;
9.12 offer and arrange appropriate and continuing training
for professionals involved in installing and maintaining these new