European lawmakers approved draft measures on Wednesday (17 January) to raise the share of renewable energy to 35% of the EU’s energy mix by 2030, setting the stage for tough talks with reluctant EU member states in the coming weeks.
Under the plan backed by the European Parliament, renewable energy would account for at least 35% of the EU’s overall energy use by 2030.
Last month, EU national governments agreed a target of 27%, disappointing environmental campaigners who see it as too little to combat climate change.
Wednesday’s vote won plaudits from across the renewable energy industries, including the wind and solar power trade associations.
WindEurope, a lobby group, said the difference between 27 and 35% could mean €92 billion less in future investments for the sector, praising the Parliament for raising the EU’s ambition.
The wind power industry particularly hailed a measure voted on by Parliament that will require EU member states to give five years’ visibility up front on their public support for renewables.
“Knowing in advance the volumes and timing of national renewable auctions is crucial to guide investments in the supply chain,” said Giles Dickson, the CEO of WindEurope. “Visibility means industry can plan, it means equipment is available when people want it, it means economies of scale,” Dickson said in a statement, adding this will make renewables even more affordable.
Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU’s climate action Commissioner, was gushing in his praise, congratulating MEPs for “aiming high with renewables” and energy efficiency directives. Taking to Twitter, he added that the European Commission “will do its utmost to facilitate an ambitious agreement” during final talks with EU member states.
#CleanEnergyEU: Congrats @Europarl_EN on aiming high with renewables! Very important step forward in the right direction, reinforces overall ambition. With this strong position, let's kick off the trilogue negotiations! #RED2 #REDII
— Miguel Arias Cañete (@MAC_europa) January 17, 2018
The draft renewable energy directive also envisage banning the use of palm oil, a major import from southeast Asia, in motor fuels from 2021, drawing an angry response from the Malaysian government, which called the move a protectionist trade barrier and a form of “crop apartheid”.
The renewable energy directive aims at helping the European Union meet its overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, following the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees.
The Parliament, the executive European Commission and EU national governments must now sit down and hammer out a final compromise on the text before it becomes law.