28th Sep 2016

Commission sets new emissions targets for EU states

  • The EU should develop low or zero emission vehicles, the commission says (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Commission on Wednesday (20 July) presented additional measures in the EU strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, including new targets and more flexibility for member states.

It set annual quotas for emission reductions for the 2021-2030 period for sectors that are not covered by the existing emissions trading system - mainly transport, buildings, agriculture and waste management.

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The quotas, which go from zero to 40 percent, are based on each country's wealth per capita, with richer countries being asked to reduce their emissions further.

But the quotas are balanced by some flexibility to take into account the cost of emissions reduction.

EU countries, as was already the case, will be able to bank, borrow, buy and sell emission credits depending on whether emissions are higher or lower that their annual target.

They will now also be able to include actions in the land use sector, such as planting trees or polluting less in agriculture, to reach their targets.

The commission, in addition, presented a new "strategy for low-emission mobility" with the aim of increasing the efficiency of transport systems and developing the use of alternative energies such as biofuels and renewable electricity.

With an increasing demand for transport, the sector would become the largest emitter, transport commissioner Violeta Bulc told journalists, adding that research towards low and zero emissions vehicles should be encouraged.

The EU climate package should be "an opportunity for transforming the economy and bring it closer to what we need in the 21st century: a low-carbon, big data-based economy," commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said.

"It is not only about reduction of emissions, the targets set the path for clarity for investors and businesses, where it is worth to innovate and invest," he said.

But Green MEP Bas Eickhout said in a statement that “the commission is failing to live up to the promises and commitments made by the EU on climate change”.

He said the targets set were below what was needed to prevent global warming and that loopholes in the proposal would allow member states to "avoid permanent greenhouse gas reductions through creative accounting".

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, a green NGO, for its part, regretted that "the Commission missed an opportunity to substantially boost emission cuts by setting the starting point for reductions as ambitiously as possible."


VW: EU's action plan is 'nothing new'

Consumer affairs commissioner Jourova said Volkswagen has "committed to an EU-wide action plan", but the promise contains little news value according to the carmaker itself.

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