I would like to share that I highly appreciate the opportunity to attend this important forum, which takes place in interesting times – acute geopolitical confrontation, acute social and economic crisis and galloping inflation. I would like to congratulate the organisers in particular, because it is precisely in these times that the debate on the green deal goes far beyond talking about a clean environment, preserving biodiversity and attracting investment in this area. There is much more at stake here – for the level of our ambitions and our future as the EU and its Member States. It is about our sober assessment of where we are now and where we want to get to with what policies and instruments. And are we aware of all the opportunities and risks along the way.
This is what President Rumen Radev said in his speech, which opened the international conference Green Transition 2022: “The Green Deal – Innovations, Investments and a Just Transition” organized by Dir.bg and 3E-news.
In his words, there is no European who does not want to live in a clean environment and in conditions of sustainable development.
“But it is very important to clearly define the concepts. The Green Deal has no alternative and it absolutely has to happen. But it is an ongoing and comprehensive process of profound economic, social and personal transformation. It is a new way of producing and consuming energy, goods and services. It is a new way of spending leisure time and relating to the environment. And not least a change in the way we get around. It is all one complex. This is a huge opportunity for a profound modernisation of our societies,” the Head of State added.
According to Radev, we need to ensure the sustainability of this process, but we need to be aware of the factors that influence it.
“Based on my participation in the EU Councils, where last year there were heated debates about the energy crisis and transition, I personally formulated several important risks concerning the green transition. First and foremost is the risk of high speed. There are areas, such as aviation, where speed is life, but there are also areas where speed can be a disaster. The big goal is to get to clean energy quickly. We have heard calls to move away from baseload power – and there are three – nuclear, coal and gas. At the same time, we have the urge to do it without clear technological solutions to the biggest problem – energy storage. In my view, whoever manages to achieve a financially, rationally and technologically feasible solution for energy storage – he will hold the key to the future,” the President was adamant.
According to him, the other risk is from excessive ambitions. “If we take the transport package these ambitions often exceed our capabilities and can lead to adverse impacts on the process. There is also the risk of losing the competitiveness of our economy. I won’t make a cut of our economic situation, but I will take the base – the availability of affordable and cheap energy – and the top – innovation and science. The base – energy – you track prices on the exchanges. For the first quarter, the average price of electricity is around EUR 250 per megawatt hour. And in the US it is EUR 65 and in China it is about EUR 10 for the same period. And we have to find the exact reasons why in Europe the electricity price is many times higher. If we do not find an answer, it means that in the medium term we will lose our competitiveness,” Radev said.
In his words, we cannot be satisfied with the fact that Europe ranks fifth in patents after China, the US, South Korea and Japan.