Friday

23rd Feb 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  2. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  3. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  4. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired
  5. Luxembourg and Ireland pay highest minimum wages
  6. Freedom of expression under threat in Spain, warn MEPs
  7. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  8. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  2. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  3. European far-right political party risks collapse
  4. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table
  5. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  6. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  7. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  8. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court