Saturday

25th Sep 2021

EU proposes 'affordable' climate targets

  • Binding national targets for renewable energy have been dropped (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission on Wednesday (22 January) proposed new greenhouse gas targets which it said would see the EU remain the global leader on climate change action, without damaging the bloc's fragile economy.

Under the proposals, the EU would curb its CO2 emissions by 40 percent - compared to 1990 levels - by 2030 and obtain "at least" 27 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the same year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Both figures were disputed until the last minute.

The greatest tussle was over renewable energy sources. As part of the overall deal, the commission abandoned the current system of national targets - which it said led to fragmentation of the internal market - in favour of an overall binding EU goal.

Member states will be free to decide how they contribute to the 2030 renewable energy target, with a new "governance system" to be established to make sure countries do their bit.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the proposals are both "ambitious and affordable" and go "beyond the debate" of either being green or supporting the industry.

No energy efficiency target was set.

Guenther Oettinger, energy commissioner, said the commission was waiting for a July review of energy efficiency policy.

Concrete targets will then be laid down in autumn, he noted. He indicated that energy efficiency targets will play a substantial role in the EU's green plans as energy prices in the EU are considerably higher than in the US, however.

"On average we're paying twice as much as the Americans for electricity," he said.

Climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaarde pre-empted criticism by environment groups that the 40 percent target is too weak by saying it will still need "real sincere effort" by member states.

"The art of politics is proposing something you can get through," she said, noting that NGOs can propose much stiffer targets but "it's not their responsibility" to implement them.

The EU's current green programme runs until 2020, and saw it commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and having 20 percent renewable energy.

The latter was reached by national targets which will, despite Wednesday's more flexible approach for the future, continue to remain in place until 2020.

The proposals are due to be discussed by EU leaders at their March summit, with Barroso saying that he believes it is possible to get agreement from all 28 member states.

Both he and Hedegaard urged a quick positive signal from governments so that the EU takes the lead ahead of global climate change discussions next year, culminating in Paris at the end of 2015.

Barroso said he would be "so happy" if other countries made a "comparable" proposal.

Green groups however accused the EU of putting too much focus on industry's wishes.

"Barroso and his commissioners seem to have fallen for the old-think industry spin that there must be a trade-off between climate action and economic recovery," said Brook Riley of Friends of the Earth.

The European Environment Bureau said both the targets contained in the proposal represent "barely more than a business-as-usual scenario."

Opinion

EU climate policy - too early to celebrate

The European Commission’s proposal for a 40 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 is a victory for the greener side of EU politics. But much energy is now likely to be spent watering down the plans.

Opinion

EU’s 2030 climate plans based on flawed analysis

Unless the EU adopts a much higher target than the pitifully weak proposed 40 percent, the result will be a chain reaction of even weaker commitments from other countries.

Kerry resets climate relations before Glasgow summit

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy, was in Brussels to discuss how to tackle climate change with the European Commission. His appearance also marked a major shift in relations after the previous US administration under Donald Trump.

Commission: Pioneering Nordics' energy mix 'example' to EU

The Nordic electricity market is an example of successful market integration plus climate action, as the share of sustainable energy keeps growing, the European Commission said. However, the decarbonisation of the transport sector remains a challenge.

News in Brief

  1. Italy arrests Puigdemont on Spanish warrant
  2. EU and US hold trade talks despite French wrath
  3. EMA to decide on Pfizer vaccine booster in October
  4. EU welcomes Polish TV-station move
  5. Ukrainian parliament passes law to curb power of oligarchs
  6. EU could force Poland to pay lignite-coal fine
  7. Report: EU and US concerned by tech-giants' power
  8. EU states sign 'transparency pledge'

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  2. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
  3. Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'
  4. Yemen's refugees in 'appalling conditions', says UN agency
  5. VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says
  6. Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president
  7. More French names linked to Russia election-monitoring
  8. Negotiations set for new, tougher, EU ethics body

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us