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Can industrial policy prevent a greenlash against Europe’s energy and climate policies?

Dinner discussion with Jean-Marc Jancovici, The Shift Project, Carbone 4

With concerns about the costs of the transition, growing trade tensions between the US and China, and uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the US presidential election and Russia’s war on Ukraine, the EU will likely find it much harder to make further progress on climate action over the next five years. These geopolitical developments – and the way the EU responds to them – will have far-reaching consequences for the EU’s trade and technology decisions, fossil fuel phase-out, and climate diplomacy. Most EP 2024 polls predict a “sharp right turn” seeing the next EP considerably more right-leaning than the current one, with the two groups to the right of the EPP much larger than they currently are. A rightward move could see the EU backpedal on its ambitions.

Could this shift increase the risks of seeing Europe fall behind on its goal to become less dependent on renewables from China or gas imports from the US, Azerbaijan and Russia? What signal would it send to investors? Could it undermine the EU's role in climate negotiations? Can the Green Deal stay on track when Europe starts to see climate ambitions penalise the competitiveness of its economy? And is it compatible with the need to protect industrial competitiveness and the existence of a “level playing field with international partners”.

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