Your special report on climate change (25-30 October) focused on what might emerge from the United Nations' climate-change summit in Doha. The summit is now near an end, and perhaps grand policy solutions will emerge. But perhaps they will not. Either way, we should also consider measures that are available to us in Europe that can be used on a meaningful scale.
Through more bite-sized and focused policy efforts, we can tap into a number of off-the-shelf solutions that tick a number of boxes at once, reducing climate-change effects while also improving energy security.
A particular concern of mine – as the founder of the Future of Rural Energy in Europe (FREE) – is clean energy in rural areas. Research by the energy industry suggests that there are millions of Europeans who live in remote areas that are not connected to the natural-gas grid and are therefore forced to rely on small-scale heating oil and coal sources. This lack of alternatives means higher emissions from pollutants as nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide, and more particulate matter.
There are cleaner alternatives, such as biomass, solar thermal and solar PV. Another is liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the part of the energy industry in which I am active.
These would be easy to deliver to rural communities, if policies and incentives were targeted. This is not just about addressing supply, but also demand. Prudent and achievable policy to increase energy efficiency – for example, a 3% annual renovation target for rural buildings – could spur improvements in how we use energy.
Europe's rural regions need greater energy choice. Our approach should be to encourage cleaner-energy supply solutions and introduce smarter policy measures.