Commission outlines 2030 climate goals

22nd January 2014

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Stewart Vale

The EU will have to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% and source 27% of its energy from renewables, under new 2030 targets proposed by the European commission

The commission has set out its proposals for 2030 climate change targets, including legally-binding targets to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 40% on 1990 levels and to ensure that at least 27% of energy is from renewable sources.

The suggested targets would supersede the bloc’s “20-20-20” goals, under which the EU must cut GHGs by 20% and source 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, as well as aim to improve energy efficiency by 20%.

The proposed 2030 GHG target, which will have to be met by reductions in domestic emissions rather than international offsets, was welcomed as a step in the right direction by the UK’s energy secretary.

“A 40% GHG target for Europe is a good start … and will lead to massive investment in low-carbon energy, including many more renewables,” commented Ed Davey. “Yet Europe must be ready to adopt a 50% target if the rest of the world is prepared to sign an ambitious global climate deal in 2015.”

A similar response was made by industry, with Paul Polman, CEO at Unilever, commenting: “A 40% target is a minimum level of ambition if we are to tackle climate change and deliver sustainable growth in the long term.”

However, EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard hailed the 40% target as an ambitious goal. “In spite of all those arguing that nothing ambitious would come out of the commission, we did it. A 40% emission reduction is the most cost-effective target for the EU and takes account of our global responsibility,” she said.

Meanwhile, the commission’s proposals for a bloc-wide renewable energy target, rather than imposing individual targets on member states as is the case in 2020, was criticised by renewable energy bodies.

“Under this pan-EU approach, we are likely to see a scenario where countries like Germany that take a long-term perspective continue to strongly back their renewables industry into the next decade, while we [the UK] fall even further behind,” said Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the UK’s Solar Trade Association.

Greene also argued that the target itself was too low and called on the EU council and parliament to negotiate a higher target. “The 27% target is no more than the commission expects under business as usual, the council and parliament must improve this significantly if it’s to have any meaningful effect.”

And, despite calls from MEPs for the introduction of a legally-binding energy-efficiency target, the commission’s plan includes no detail on the level of energy savings it expects the EU to make between 2020 and 2030.

While stating that “no transition towards a competitive, secure and sustainable energy system is possible without energy efficiency”, the commission has postponed setting out any policy goals until a review of the Energy Efficiency Directive has been reviewed later this year.

“A climate and energy policy with no long-term energy savings target cannot be called a framework, but is piecemeal,” argued Stefan Scheuer, secretary general for the Coalition for Energy Savings.

Alongside its proposals for 2030 climate goals, the commission outlined how it plans to reform the EU emissions trading system from the second phase to avoid the surplus of allowances that has driven down the price of carbon in recent years.

The commission has drafted a piece of legislation that will enable the supply of ETS allowances to be automatically adjusted in light of shifts in the market, ensuring it is more resilient to major shocks. If accepted by the EU parliament and council the changes will come into force from the start of the second phase in 2021.

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