Günther Oettinger, the EU’s energy commissioner, greeted the launch of a new coalition promoting renewables and gas power with a call to set fixed emissions reductions and clean energy targets for 2030.
“I think we need a new CO2 emissions reduction target,” he told a conference in Brussels on 31 October, which marked the launch of a new alliance between companies involved in renewable energies and natural gas production.
The targets, Oettinger said, would be “maybe more than 20% or 30% in 2030.”
“I [also] think we need a new binding target for renewables because if we just have a new binding target for CO2 emissions reductions [then] nuclear is better,” he added.
Nuclear power might be welcome, Oettinger said, “but we need a clear outlook for renewable energy, so more obligations, and maybe more coordinated and harmonised European support schemes, not just 28 different national support schemes.”
An internal European Commission debate about a communication on targets for 2030 is due to begin in six weeks time, with mixed messages emerging from the EU executive as to its potential contents.
Jasmin Battista, a member of Oettinger’s cabinet, told a meeting in October that the commissioner would only favour a combined target for renewables and emissions reductions. But such a package would lack support from member states.
A week before, Jos Delbeke, the European Commission’s director general for climate, told a separate conference in Brussels that there would be no such climate and energy package until 2015 at the earliest.
A separate proposal for increased emissions reductions targets may also be included in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) reform proposals in November, drawn up by its climate department, as a jolt to the flat-lining carbon price.
Shell, one of the companies supporting the new gas and renewable energy alliance, supports the removal of around 1 billion allowances from the ETS, and a carbon price floor in the ETS from 2020 onwards, both of which might help to encourage investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
But Dick Benschop, Shell's Netherlands Gas Markets vice president, said overlapping EU targets would interfere with the EU’s policy objectives. “For us, it’s absolutely clear that the key 2030 target is for CO2,” he told EurActiv. “That’s what is driving climate change.”
Shell has yet to formulate a precise position but Benschop indicated that the energy giant, which for the first time this year expects to produce more natural gas than oil, expects a target in a range between 30% and 40%.
“We support Commissioner Oettinger in his statement in favour of a 2030 target for renewable energy. We need this target legally binding and in our view a 45% renewable target would create long term policy-stability for the energy sector”, said Justin Wilkes, policy director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
The EU has set a legally binding goal to reduce its emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. Moreover, it has pledged to raise this to 30% if other countries make comparable commitments.
The EU agreed a new Renewable Energies Directive in December 2008, which turns into law its binding target to source 20% of the bloc's energy from renewable sources by 2020.
In October 2009, EU leaders endorsed a long-term target of reducing collective developed country emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. This is in line with the recommendations of the UN's scientific arm - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - for preventing catastrophic changes to the Earth's climate.
- End of 2012: EU to begin discussion on 2030 targets
- Nov. 2012: EU expected to publish carbon market reform proposals which may contain emissions reductions recommendations
- 2014: Commissioner Oettinger has called for a decision on new EU climate targets by the end of this year
- 2020: Deadline for Eu to meet its climate target for 20% improvements in carbon emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency
- European Commission: Energy Roadmap 2050