The European Commission has just launched its plan to single energy market in Europe, which is the largest energy importer in the world, importing 53% of its energy, at an annual cost of around €400 billion.
Many countries followed the example of Britain's Margaret Thatcher, who, in the 1980s privatised a massive part of the national infrastructure, including gas and electricity. Many in Europe followed over the decades as they believed that by shifting assets from the public-sector to private ownership and the capital markets, huge economic efficiencies could be unleashed.
The energy sector in Europe is dominated by multinationals who have continued to burn fossil fuels and failed to invest heavily in renewables. Meanwhile, according to European Commission figures, wholesale electricity prices in Europe are 30% higher, and wholesale gas prices are over 100% higher than in the US.
Regulations Are Scorned
In her book 'The Economic System We Have Created Global Warming', Naomi Klein says capitalism itself and the dash for privatisation has actually led to an increase in global warming.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, she said: "The connection between greenhouse gases and global warming has been a mainstream political issue for humanity since 1988. It was precisely the time that the Berlin Wall fell and Francis Fukuyama declared the ‘End of History', the victory of Western capitalism. Canada and the US signed the first free-trade agreement, which became the prototype for the rest of the world.
"We have systematically given away the tools. Regulations of any kind are now scorned. Governments no longer create tough rules that limit oil companies and other corporations. This crisis fell into our laps in a disastrous way at the worst possible moment. Now we're out of time. Where we are right now is a do-or-die moment. If we don't act as a species, our future is in peril. We need to cut emissions radically."
Her views are backed up by Greenpeace UK, which claimed the EU single market plan supports the need to cut carbon emissions and the role of renewable energy, but backs fossil fuels like coal in the context of energy security.
Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Tara Connolly said: "The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing with this plan. The Commission says the EU should move away from fossil fuels but it also wants to chase after new gas supplies and doesn't rule out coal. Europe needs a coherent, joined-up plan if it's going to play its part against climate change and be the world's number one in renewables."
Burning Desire to Make Money
Despite these criticisms, Maroš Šefčovič, the Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union said: "We [are launching] the most ambitious European energy project since the Coal and Steel Community. A project that will integrate our 28 European energy markets into one Energy Union, make Europe less energy dependent and give the predictability that investors so badly need to create jobs and growth."
However, Europe has a long way to go. It had nine of the world's top 25 emitters in 2012. Germany had the 6th highest emissions. The UK ranked 13th highest, closely followed by Italy in 16th and France 18th. Consumption of fossil fuels in these countries remains high.
Of the total 35.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted in 2012, 33 percent of those emissions came from burning gas, according to the Global Carbon Project.
As a region, Europe was at the forefront of that charge, emitting nearly two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Despite the growth in US shale gas, Europe's still using more gas. And all that, despite the creation of huge privatised multinationals whose primary function is making profits.