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Speakers corner 15 July 2021

"Come gather 'round people, wherever you roam - And admit that the waters around have grown"

Dear Readers,

Dear EERA colleagues,

At the dawn of the summer break, time is more than auspicious for taking some distance and reflecting on the dynamics shaping our society.

In 1964, Nobel Prize Bob Dylan released its track The times they are a-changin', as an anthem of change for the time, calling lawmakers to rally the legislation in the needed direction for the nation. Almost 60 years later, this anthem could not be more relevant.

Space billionaires offer galactic rides to millionaire tourists in search of an escape from the planet's turmoil. While at the same time, on earth, ordinary people are witnessing radical changes in their daily lives.

This week, French President Emmanuel Macron made a ground-breaking political decision by rendering Covid vaccination compulsory for classes of caretakers. A radical and controverted decision that would never have been possible a few years ago in the "land of freedom", but that reminds us starkly how individual freedom and collective destiny are inseparable.

The times they are a-changin'

Today, the European Commission is unveiling 13 policies under its "Fit for 55" package. What could be seen as yet an additional piece of legislation is instead a beacon crucial to direct the bloc towards climate neutrality in less than three decades. This new policy package perfectly illustrates EERA's leitmotif: designing effective transition pathways calls for a holistic, systemic, cross-sectoral, and interdisciplinary approach.

More specifically, the well-known Emission Trading System (ETS), initially designed for the most polluting industries, is expected to be extended to include emissions from cars and heating buildings. Taxes on aviation and maritime fuels will be proposed for the first time, and intra-EU shipping will fall under the extended ETS from 2023 onwards. An EU carbon border adjustment mechanism will force importers of carbon-intensive products such as steel, cement, aluminium, and fertilizers to pay for the soaring carbon costs faced by the European industry. Frans Timmermans, the European Commission's Vice-President in charge of the EU Green Deal, called it "arguably the biggest transformational operation in living memory"

Mr Timmermans statement could not better echo the central argument of the EERA White Paper on the Clean Energy Transition, which is expected to be officially launched in Brussels in October. While the transition will require massive and accelerated R&I investments for delivering the needed clean technologies, half of which are still in development or in their infancy, transitioning to net-zero will require a fast transformational change in all aspects of our society.

The times they are a-changin'

In this spirit, we at EERA stand more than ever committed and mobilized to support the EU in shaping a highly desirable, fair, sustainable, and climate-neutral future.

In the meantime, and as we switch to holidays mode, let me wish you all a relaxing, re-energizing, and healthy summer break.


Adel El Gammal

EERA Secretary General