Parliament fails to approve ambitious 2030 renewables target

Wind turbines on a wintry field in Dithmarschen, Germany. December 2010. [BlueRidgeKitties/Flickr]

The European Parliament yesterday (21 May) approved a non-binding resolution calling for a mandatory EU-wide share for renewables for 2030, but failed to set the target in the 40-45% range.


The resolution says the EU should try to achieve a share of renewables in the overall energy mix greater than the European Commission's current working assumption of 30%. This text was passed by a narrow majority (339-336, with 19 abstentions).

However, a proposal that this target should be set between 40% and 45% failed, with 365 votes against to 284 in favour.

‘A starting point’

"This resolution is a starting point for future debates," said German MEP Herbert Reul (EPP), who steered the resolution through Parliament.

"Renewable energy support needs to be seen from an EU perspective. We need to talk about how we are going to shape our climate policy after 2020 overall," Reul said in a statement.

MEPs argue that it is essential to move the debate about a suitable EU system of support for renewable energy after 2020. A long-term integrated strategy for promoting renewables at EU level should take account of the wide variety of support schemes now in place in the member states, as well as of regional and geographical differences, the text says.

Speaking on behalf of the promoters of an ambitious target for renewables, Irish MEP Jill Evans (Greens/EFA) expressed her disappointment with the adopted text. "I regret the failure of the European Parliament to set more ambitious, binding targets. Sourcing 40-45% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 is perfectly feasible, and we should be aiming higher,” she said in a statement.

Evans said she hoped that the European Commission would take on board more ambitious renewable targets in its proposals on climate and energy. The current working assumption of the EU executive is that the share of renewable energy in 2030 should be of 30%.

The EU’s Green Paper for 2030 climate targets mentions a potential greenhouse gas emission-reduction target of 40%, and does not close the door on a 30% target for the proportion of energy that renewable energy may make up by 2030.

But the consultation document suggests that progress on a new energy savings goal be delayed until after a review next year of progress towards reaching the bloc’s 2020 target, despite recognising that this is non-binding, and unlikely to be met. 

The EU currently has three 2020 climate plans – for 20% improvements on the continent’s CO2 emissions, renewables and energy consumption performances. This latter is to be met by a variety of means.

  • By end of 2013: Communication on 2030 targets expected
  • 2014: Review of progress towards meeting the 2020 energy efficiency target
  • May 2014: EU member states must prepare schemes for their energy companies to deliver annual energy savings of 1.5%
  • 2014, 2016: European Commission to review the directive
  • 2020: Deadline for EU states to meet voluntary 20% energy-efficiency target

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