EU sets out ‘walk now, sprint later’ 2030 clean energy vision


The European Commission set out its goal Wednesday (22 January) of a Europe which, by 2030, emits 40% less carbon dioxide than it did in 1990, uses renewables for 27% of its energy, and employs a reserve mechanism to regulate its carbon market.

The last wrangle in the target-setting was ironed out yesterday morning, with accord on a 27% target for renewables in 2030 that would be binding at the EU level but voluntary for member states.

The issue had become inter-linked with haggling over whether the greenhouse gas reduction target should be 35% or 40%, and the final fudge left some environmentalists privately breathing a sigh of relief.  

The EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, told a press conference in Brussels that unlike the EU’s 2020 target of a 20% CO2 reduction, the 40% target for 2030 could not be met by ‘carbon offsets’ and would require real emissions reductions.

Such offsets could though, be used to meet any pledges made in international climate talks, the commission's communication makes clear.

“If we go from 20% [greenhouse gas reductions] in 2020 to 40% in 2030, I am sure everyone realises that this is a very ambitious goal,” the Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, told the same press briefing. “Lets hope that our member states will accept it,” he added.

Within minutes, the proposal was being applauded by industry groups for its simplicity and cost-effectiveness, but chastised by many environmentalists for being a betrayal of Europe’s climate ambition.

The employers confederation BusinessEurope described it as “positive,” while environmentalists dubbed it a “walk now, sprint later” package that would require the EU to decarbonise twice as fast in the last two decades to 2050, as in the four decades before – with diminishing access to ‘low hanging fruits’ in the energy efficiency field.

Politicians hope that such a herculean task will allow Europe to contribute to a world warmed by less than 2 degrees Celsius this century. “We remain committed to the 2 degrees Celsius target,” Barroso said. “There is no ambiguity about that. This is a global goal and it is for that that we’re working.”

Short-term hedonism

But scientists were divided about the chances of the EU’s strategy's success. Kevin Anderson, the deputy director of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, described the EU package as “a sad day for science, rationality and humanity” that would lock high carbon-emitting infrastructure into the continent’s economic future.

“The EU’s dishonesty over its greenhouse gas target may be politically palatable today but our children will reap the repercussions of our short-term hedonism,” he told EURACTIV.

“Given the EU’s importance as a leader in international climate change negotiations, a 40% target would condemn many millions of poor people to a dangerous future,” he said. “If we stick to this 40% target we will by 2030 have reneged on our international commitments to avoid dangerous global warming of 2 degrees centigrade.”

Kevin Trenberth, a lead author for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the EU seemed to be “backing away a little bit after the 2020 goals” and leaving a gap in ambition.

Hedegaard confirmed at yesterday's press conference that the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive – which mandates a 6% cut in the greenhouse gas intensity of transport fuels by 2020 – will end in that year, so giving a boost to the tar sands industry and a setback to the biofuels'.

As EURACTIV previously reported, shale gas exploration and exploitation will both be subject to new recommendations under the new proposals but any binding directive will have to wait until after a review in July 2015.

Energy efficiency

On energy efficiency, “the Commission's analysis shows that a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 40% would require an increased level of energy savings of approximately 25% in 2030,” the EU’s communication says.

But no such target is mandated, or will even be discussed until after a June 2014 review of the energy efficiency directive. Ironically, an EU strategy roadmap released on the same day as the climate package confirmed that member states are only on track to make 17% energy savings by 2020, rather than the indicative (non-binding) goal of 20%.

As the final package still needs to be discussed by a European Parliament that has proposed a much stronger climate package and member states, which the Commission says favour a weaker one, no final decision is expected on the 2030 goals until at least June.

The energy commissioner Günther Oettinger said it would be “an infringement of people’s trust in current procedures” to prejudge member states' progress towards the 2020 goals.

Low carbon leakage

But Tony Robson, the CEO of Knauf Insulation, which has just announced its first European factory closure due to ‘low carbon leakage’ this month was not impressed. 

“Consumers across the EU are crying out for governments to bring down energy bills,” he said. “It is inexcusable that the Commission has proposed a way forward that will drive costs up while ignoring energy efficiency – the only guaranteed, cost neutral way to drive competitiveness through reduced energy costs.”

The nature of the final compromise though was such that it left everyone in the Commission’s Berlaymont building able to claim a victory.

Barroso, for example, noted that the final compromise would offer "exemptions" and loopholes for industry considered vulnerable to ‘carbon leakage’.

Oettinger too said: “I have pleaded for a less ambitious objective of 35% [greenhouse gas reductions] but I am a democrat.”

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate commissioner, said that without concessions that she had made to get the package agreed, it would have been “dead, politically speaking”.

The renewable energy target is based on a business-as-usual figure set out in a ‘Trends’ document, but member states will have to draw up national plans for review by the commission which could be made more stringent if Brussels decides that the EU is off course to meet it.

Unusually, Glass For Europe, the Glass industry federation issued their response to the 2030 package in a youtube video, which “urges the European  Parliament and the Council to give solid foundations to a real and credible framework by prioritizing energy efficiency.”

"An independent analysis shows that more ambitious decarbonisation scenarios deliver greater benefits, though the EC’s draft impact assessment is limited to 45% emissions cuts, and the political discussion is focused on even lower figures”, said Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy at WWF European Policy Office. “It also reveals that despite the need to ensure long term decarbonisation, European Commission proposals for 2030 appear to reduce ambition for 2050 compared to previous publications. The European Commission’s work should be based on expert analysis and resist Europe’s least ambitious voices, or the EU will face 10 years of climate inaction, energy sector stagnation, and lost environmental and economic opportunities.”

Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Philips, said the proposal fell short of his industry’s expectations. “The omission of a binding energy efficiency target is particularly disappointing and we hope that it will be reconsidered in the next months under the review of the Energy efficiency Directive,” he went on. “European policy-makers must realize that Europe will never lead on cheap energy and must lead on least consumed energy. Energy efficiency is a key driver in making Europe more competitive and energy independent, by stimulating innovation in the products and services with which we compete in the global market place”.

“This proposal is clearly disappointing from our point of view,” said Gert De Block, the secretary-general of CEDEC, which represents over 1500 local and regional energy companies. “CEDEC has been strongly advocating for a multiple-target approach, with an ambitious and legally binding target for renewables and greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, along with intensive energy efficiency efforts. A European RES target without legally binding national targets will not hold Member States accountable for their commitments. This proposal is clearly lacking accountability, also on EU level.”

Lies Craeynest, Oxfam’s EU climate change expert, said that “the European Commission is gambling with our futures. The proposed 40% target would scupper any hopes of keeping temperatures below the 2 degree danger level. With such lamentably low ambition, the Commission is dramatically increasing the odds of a future global food crisis. Shamefully, Commission President Barroso has put the interests of the fossil fuel lobby above all others. Progressive business leaders who understand the serious threat that climate change poses to people and the economy must now make sure European governments demand a much bolder 2030 EU climate package.”

"The previously far-sighted and ambitious European Commission is a shadow of its former self, hiding behind the UK and other backward-looking Member States and lobbies. By effectively advocating repatriation of energy policy to Member States, President Barroso appears to have forgotten his previous calls for ‘more European integration’ on energy policy", said Thomas Becker, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association."The Heads of State now need to show leadership and agree an ambitious 2030 climate and energy framework that benefits Europe and allows its world-leading wind energy sector to make Europe more prosperous and secure."

The Green Party’s climate change spokesperson Bas Eickhout said: "What the Commission is proposing is too little, too late. It will do little or nothing to address the oversupply of emissions permits, which is depressing the EU carbon market, in the short to medium term. As a result, if these proposals are not radically altered, it would essentially commit the EU's flagship climate change policy to a prolonged period of malfunction. The proposed market stability reserve is a mockery and will utterly fail to deal with the huge surplus of emissions permits that are flooding the market. It will only begin operation from 2021 on, by which time the surplus of permits/allowances in EU's carbon market will have been allowed to grow to 2.6 billion, based on current estimates. Even by 2030, the surplus would still amount to over 2 billion, based on what has been proposed today.”

The GUE/NGL MEP Sabine Wils slammed the European Commission's new emissions reduction targets as "devastating for the planet". She said: "Quite simply the Commission has put the interests of large energy companies above the interests of the environment and the most vulnerable populations whose livelihoods are already under threat as a result of climate change. The Commission white paper aims to lock Europe into an unsustainable energy system that is bad for people and the environment, while guaranteeing large benefits to the coal, gas, nuclear power and bioenergy industries. It seems as if the Commission wants to prevent making the necessary long term changes."

Connie Hedegaard, the EU's Commissioner for Climate Action, said: “In spite of all those arguing that nothing ambitious would come out of the Commission today, we did it. A 40% emissions reduction is the most cost-effective target for the EU and it takes account of our global responsibility. And of course Europe must continue its strong focus on renewables.  That is why it matters that the Commission is proposing today a binding EU-level target.  The details of the framework will now have to be agreed, but the direction for Europe has been set.  If all other regions were equally ambitious about tackling climate change, the world would be in significantly better shape.”

“The absence of a specific framework for transport in today’s proposal is deeply regrettable,” said Nour Amrani, public affairs manager of the second generation biofuels company Novozymes. “Transport is responsible for 25% of EU greenhouse gas emissions and its share is further growing. It is also the sector where our energy dependency is rising. This has justified the sectoral approach adopted in the 2020 climate and energy package which remains valid post 2020. We therefore urge EU decision-makers to demonstrate their commitment to long term climate and energy objectives by renewing ambitious targets for the transport sector by 2030.” 

The Friends of the Supergrid (FOSG) also issued a statement calling for “more action to be taken by the European Commission to hasten the development of a single market in electricity and the construction of physical interconnection projects. Interconnection objectives for 2030 that would sit alongside targets for carbon emissions reductions would help deliver more secure, affordable and low-carbon sources of energy.”

Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Shale gas regulations have been fracked to pieces by corporations and fossil fuel-fixated governments. Insufficient and non-binding recommendations and monitoring mean fracking will go ahead improperly regulated and local communities will be the ones who suffer. Europe is putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Geert de Cock, policy officer for Food & Water Europe added: “The Commission proposals on unconventional fossil fuels fail to deliver the robust rules that the Commission’s own impact assessment, the Parliament, opinion polls and the International Energy Agency have called for. The lack of courage by EU leaders to stand up to industry pressure will galvanize our campaign for a complete ban on fracking.”

Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), said: “This is a depressing day for Europe. President Barroso’s ambition to leave a green legacy from his two mandates has miserably failed. We currently have an energy paradigm where we send billions of euros out of Europe rather than employing people in Europe to save energy. Today’s communication was a chance to fix this by creating an energy and climate policy that started with the most cost-effective measures first. Instead the Commission has given in to the intense lobbying efforts of the large energy providers and energy intensive industries and what we have is a disaster – both for Europe’s climate and our competitiveness”.

Eurima, the European Insulation Manufacturers Association, issued a statement saying that: “By deciding not to propose a binding energy efficiency target in its 2030 Climate & Energy Package, the EU Commission has chosen a short-sighted business-as-usual approach that will fail to deliver long-term competitiveness and sustainable growth in the EU.” The group’s director-general, Jan te Bos added that: “Everyone knows that the future competitiveness and sustainable growth potential of the EU economy will largely depend on its resource efficiency, especially its energy efficiency. Ambitious energy efficiency policies and measures tick all the boxes for solving the current economic, social and environmental challenges, and their almost immediate return on investment will re-inject funds into our economies thus becoming a “revolving engine for local growth and jobs”.

“Excluding Energy Efficiency from the 2030 Package is to consciously choose NOT to boost our fragile economic recovery and to lock-in high costs for future generations, renege on our climate commitments and reduce EU competitiveness” said Adrian Joyce, Secretary General of EuroACE. “By proposing only a GHG emissions target and a Renewables target, the Commission’s White Paper genuinely ignores the crucial role energy efficiency should play in meeting our climate and energy ambitions in a cost-effective manner, based on the energy savings potential of each sector.”

“Failing to include a binding Energy Efficiency Target in the 2030 Climate and Energy Package flies in the face of basic EU democracy by openly disregarding the Report adopted in the ENVI-ITRE Parliamentary Committees this month which calls for 3 binding targets”, said Anne Delvaux, Co-Rapporteur on the European Parliament’s 2030 Report.  “Increased Energy Efficiency should be seen as the cornerstone of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy package, and a binding 40% Energy Efficiency target by 2030 is the only way to unlock the huge energy savings in sectors such as buildings where the energy savings is huge and cost-effective!”

Thomas Nowak, the secretary-general of the European Heat Pump Association called for “a meaningful and ambitious post-2020 energy and climate policy based on three targets. Anything less than that must be considered inappropriate. Suggesting rather unambitious targets for GHG emissions and renewables has little meaning, as both will largely be reached by continuing business as usual.”

The Coalition of Progressive European Energy Companies welcomed the Commission’s proposals for binding targets for carbon reductions and renewable energy . “The certainty of these targets can give support to the on-going transition of the EU energy system and help drive cost reductions for key technologies,” the group said in a statement. “However, with the target for renewables not differentiated per member state, strong governance and reliable enforcement mechanisms will be crucial to avoid uncertainty for investments in renewable energy.”

The Community of European Railways executive director Libor Lochman said: “Expanding railway transport can facilitate the EU’s efforts towards achieving its climate policy and energy security goals. We need to pursue genuine joined-up thinking to ensure that the EU’s transport policies are fully aligned with the EU’s climate and energy policy objectives so as to ensure that all economic sectors can play their full role in supporting the EU’s common goals.”

For the oil refineries’ industry, EUROPIA’s director general, Chris Beddoes stated: “The proposed package is complex and very new to most readers and we will look at it carefully before commenting in details. It must now serve as basis for much wider stakeholder debate about Europe’s path to 2030, especially before binding targets and measures, which could harm the competitiveness of European industry if other regions do not implement equivalent measures, are finally adopted. Europia will contribute to what we hope will be an open and constructive debate based upon fact based and objective analysis ".

Géraldine Kutas, the head of international affairs for the Brazilian sugar cane industry body, UNICA, commented that “apparently, the current European Commission's long term strategy is now formally not to have one.” She added: “The Commission proposed, as expected, no longer term extension or increase to the 10% renewables-in-transport target set for 2020.But it went one step further today and dropped an EU goal for reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of fuels used in road transport. This Commission had an opportunity to lay out a necessary plan to address Europe's longer term transport and environmental challenges by including such things as a longer term target for sustainable biofuels to give industry investment confidence. Fortunately there is much debate ahead on this matter.”

In the European Parliament, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), welcomed the new Climate and Energy Package presented by the European Commission, but warned against "uncoordinated approaches".

"EU climate policy must not become an anti-industry policy", said Richard Seeber , an Austrian MEP who is EPP spokesman for the Parliament's environment committee, and Pilar Del Castillo, a Spanish MEP who is EPP spokeswoman in Parliament's Industry committee. “It is not sufficient to push for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions whilst neglecting the roll-out of more renewable energies and the boosting of industry production in Europe”, they stressed.

Linda McAvan, environment spokesperson for the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), said: "An EU-wide binding renewables target with no individual national targets would appear to be unenforceable. We would still have to see how the governance system the Commission wants to introduce will work. So far the EU climate and energy policy has only been successful because there were binding national targets. We are the world leaders for a transition to a clean and sustainable economy. Let’s keep hold of that leadership!

The Committee of Regions of the EU said that the energy and climate plans lack ambitions and overlook local government: “We welcome the Commission's proposal to introduce binding targets on greenhouse gases and renewable energy. The previous 2020 targets drove up the share of renewable energy in the EU by 4.5%: renewables is a growth sector boosting competitiveness, creating jobs and attracting much needed investment in our communities.

“The Commission proposals on energy and climate up to 2030 will do nothing to promote an industrial renaissance, rather they will accelerate the de-industrialisation which is already underway” protested Gordon Moffat, director general of EUROFER, the steel industry trade association. “We appeal urgently to the EU member states and the European Parliament to adopt some principles which would make the EU energy and climate policy workable for energy intensive industry and sustainable for the EU’s economy.”

Friends of the Earth’s International Climate Campaigner Asad Rehman said: “Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face, but instead of putting action to tackle it at the heart of its policy making, the EU has effectively kicked it into the side lines. Building a low carbon Europe would not only be good for the environment, it would also create thousands of jobs and boost the economy, as the EU’s own research so clearly shows. Households across Europe are paying a heavy price for our dependency on dirty and increasingly costly fossil fuels – it’s time for a fresh approach to the huge challenges we face.”

By contrast, Dirk Forrister, the International Emissions Trading Association president and CEO welcomed the 2030 plan for “providing clarity on the policy direction for the EU. It is troubling that the connections to global markets appear to end with the emphasis on domestic action alone. If the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 is to succeed in building a cost effective global framework for protecting against warming over 2 degrees C, global markets are essential -  these must be practical and effective and, given the experience of the EU ETS and the CDM, Europe must look to provide leadership. That said, we are pleased to see that the Commission is open to future consideration of international market linkages.”

Paul Dickinson, the executive chairman of CDP, an international not-for-profit that provides commodities information welcomed the package but said it needed to go further: “Strong binding targets in energy efficiency and renewable energy - two fundamental pillars of emissions abatement - are essential in giving investors confidence in low carbon technologies and in guiding investment decisions away from products and services that are based on the use of fossil fuels.”

“Europe is sending a bad signal to investors, citizens and local authorities by downgrading its climate and energy ambitions. While European leaders fear for the block’s competitiveness, the energy transition that is being implemented by thousands of cities across the continent is creating local jobs, delivering tangible economic savings and fostering numerous business opportunities,” said Energy Cities’ Executive Director Gérard Magnin

At the European Biodiesel Board, Secretary-General Rafaello Garofalo regretted the new EU climate vision. “Binding targets have shown to be right in deploying renewable sources,” he said. “Industry relies on stable long-term policy framework. European institutions and Member States have the responsibility to reinforce sustainable transport with specific targets.”

Yves Brachet , the Europe, Middle East and Africa president of Westinghouse, a supplier of products and technologies to the nuclear industry, commented: “For the most part, the Commission’s proposal sends clear signals and sets the right long-term policy framework for all actors to contribute to making Europe’s low carbon future a reality. We remain convinced that technology neutrality is the best way forward. Generating more than 25% of EU electricity today, nuclear energy plays a key role in meeting Europe’s low-carbon and energy-security objectives in the long term.”

Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever said that “a 40% target is a minimum level of ambition if we are to tackle climate change and deliver sustainable growth in the long term.  We hope that other countries will follow Europe’s lead in developing their own ambitious targets.”

Carmen Becerril, Chief International Officer at Acciona agreed. “Only by setting a clear direction on GHG emissions reductions and renewables can Europe attempt to keep its share of the global low carbon and environmental business market,” he said. “We do however need to be even more ambitious if Europe is to trigger a clean energy revolution.”

Noel Morrin, Senior Vice President, Sustainability & Green Support at Swedish construction and property developer Skanska said: “We are concerned that without binding energy efficiency targets the 2030 package will not provide the long term signal needed for continued investments. The emissions reduction target should be complemented by a clear signal on energy efficiency to ensure markets get to where we need to be in 2050.”

But “the proposals tabled by the European Commission will kick off a process that will shape the EU’s climate and energy policy towards 2030”, according to Thomson Reuters Point Carbon. A senior analyst with the company, Hæge Fjellheim , said that “if member states support a 40% reduction target this year it would position the EU to play a leading role in the process towards a new global climate deal to be adopted by the end of 2015. However, it won’t be easy to get all EU countries to sign up to this target. The European Council in March may well see an exchange of views rather than an adoption of a final EU position.”

Ariel Brunner, Head of EU Policy at BirdLife Europe contended that the package would not safeguard Europe from damaging climate change. “It even proposes to open Europe’s doors to the worst types of dirty fuels,” he said. “To stand a reasonable chance of avoiding more than two degrees of warming by the end of the century, the European Union must set up binding 2030 targets for climate, renewables and energy saving. To start, the cut in greenhouse gas emissions must be more ambitious and reach 55% by 2030. In line with this, BirdLife Europe supports a binding 45% share of renewables and binding 40% energy savings by 2030.”

But Markus J. Beyrer, director-general for BUSINESSEUROPE, Europe’s employers confederation, said: "It is positive that the pack of measures published today acknowledges the challenge of high energy prices in the EU and addresses the risk of investment leakage better than in the past. However, the overall level of ambition for a 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target is only realistic if a binding international climate agreement can be concluded in 2015. Therefore we urge the European Commission and the European Council to make sure that Europe will not be once again a lone frontrunner without followers”.

At green NGO Sandbag, Damien Morris, the Head of Policy said it was encouraging to see the Commission support a 40% domestic target in keeping with the 2050 Roadmap. “But more work is needed to ensure Europe actually stays on the cost-effective trajectory to meet its 2050 goals,” he added. “Unless removed, the surplus allowances in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme threaten to drag Europe dangerously off course to reach this target.”

EURELECTRIC Secretary General Hans ten Berge warmly welcomed the new proposals. “We are pleased to see that the Commission recognises the interactions between different targets and instruments,” he said. “We acknowledge their intention to reduce complexity and ensure greater cost-effectiveness through more European and market-driven approaches, most notably the ETS. EURELECTRIC has repeatedly called on policymakers to strengthen and extend the ETS as the most cost-effective instrument to deliver decarbonisation, including a continued and less costly expansion of renewables. We have also called for an economy-wide, binding 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target of at least -40% compared to 1990.”

But the ACT Alliance climate change policy and advocacy officer, Vitu Chinoko, said the proposals would have a “devastating impact” on people already suffering the effects of climate change in the developing world. “It’s a slap in the face for the millions of vulnerable poor people in developing countries who already suffer the impact of climate change,” he said. The Christian charity coalition APRODEV’s climate change and development policy officer Janna Schönfeld said that more ambitious targets were needed. “The EU needs to show it’s up to the challenge by cutting greenhouse gases by at least 55 percent compared to 1990, ensuring at least 45 percent of energy consumption is from renewable sources and reducing energy use by 40 percent compared to 2005,” she said.

For the ethanol industry, ePURE's Secretary General Mr. Rob Vierhout said: “The Commission has failed in its first test to provide a clear signal to investors that there will be a clear policy framework for sustainable biofuels in Europe after 2020. These proposals are short sighted, the only winners will be the fossil fuel industry. The proposals ignore the giant elephant in the room, the constantly increasing GHG emissions of EU transport which now represent over a quarter of EU GHG emissions. We call on the European Parliament and Member States to recognise the benefits of sustainable biofuels by introducing separate and binding targets for renewable energy and GHG reductions in transport".

Ingrid Holmes, the associate director at E3G said: “These figures put to bed two of the biggest myths currently being peddled by Business Europe: that EU climate policies are the cause of the large differential in energy prices between the EU and US and that EU industry has become uncompetitive as a result.  The €545 billion spent on energy imports in 2012 dwarfs the €46 billion spent on renewable energy subsidies and seriously endangers future European competitiveness and energy security through increasing exposure to ever rising fossil fuel prices.”

Monique Goyens, director-general of The European Consumer Organisation BEUC commented: “Keeping energy prices affordable should be at the front of our minds when overhauling energy policy for the coming decades. The Commission’s own figures show that energy expenditure in 2010 and 2011 represented up to 10% of household income. This untenable situation needs to be tackled.”

For Brook Riley, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, “climate change is happening but the EU is breaking its commitments to address it. With this proposal senior decision-makers are proposing action which goes against people’s best interests. This totally inadequate proposal is off the radar of what climate science tells us to do in Europe to avoid climate catastrophe.”

Eva Filzmoser, Director of Carbon Market Watch said: “Despite announcing a weaker overall target than is necessary, we welcome the European Commission’s proposal to build the EU’s future climate framework on domestic measures.  Member States and the European Parliament must support the move and keep the door to international offsets firmly shut.”

“The Commission’s proposal falls well short of what science tells us is needed to address the devastating consequences of climate change and shows a serious lack of vision and leadership by President Barroso,” said Jeremy Wates, the European Environmental Bureau’s secretary-general. “By siding with the fossil-based business interests of yesterday, President Barroso appears to have abandoned the progressive business interests of tomorrow and the prospects for Europe to take a global lead in moving towards a sustainable low carbon economy.”

“A climate and energy policy with no long-term energy savings target cannot be called a framework but is piecemeal. It will exacerbate social, environmental and economic problems”, said Stefan Scheuer, Secretary General for the Coalition for Energy Savings. “However, the Commission left itself a chance to fix this omission in the coming months, certainly influenced by the growing support for a 2030 binding energy savings target.”

Dora Petroula, Policy Officer for Climate Action Network Europe, said that three binding targets would help Europe fulfil its climate goals and boost its economy. “Regrettably the Commission chose to present a proposal that is not ambitious and does not include an energy savings target, keeping the corresponding benefits away,” she added.   

But Stephanie Pfeifer, Chief Executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which represents over 85 of Europe’s largest investors worth €7.5 trillion, said: “Today’s proposals are an important first step to restoring investor confidence in the EU’s vision for a low-carbon energy future. A 40% emissions reduction target is the minimum necessary to keep Europe on course for a low-carbon economy as outlined in the EU’s 2050 Roadmap. Achieving this target is well within member state capabilities and crucial for long-term policy certainty. Plans for reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme have been long-awaited and the establishment of a reserve mechanism which can support a strong carbon price is a welcome move. However, investors would like more clarity on how this reserve mechanism will bring about a meaningful carbon price over the long-term.” 

“Policymakers should act with urgency and waste no time in turning these proposals into legislative reality,” warned the Renewable Energy Association’s CEO Dr Nina Skorupska. “We’re about to find out what happens when theoretical economics meets the real world,” she added. “Theory suggests a ‘technology neutral’ approach is economically efficient. But experience shows that binding renewables targets do two things: First, they give a major long-term boost to investor confidence, helping accelerate market growth and technology cost reduction. Second, politics frequently trumps economics in the real world, and when politicians go wobbly on renewables, the targets help keep investment flowing.”

Nusa Urbancic, policy manager for clean fuels at Transport & Environment, said “The Commission is using the climate and energy package as an excuse to quietly scrap the FQD - the best EU law aimed at lowering emissions from transport fuel. This is good news for oil companies and Alberta, with its high-carbon tar sands, but bad news for Europe in our move towards a more sustainable transport system. We call on EU member states to reverse this decision when they discuss it at the Environment Council in March.”

“After a heated internal debate on whether to propose a very unambitious or just an unambitious climate and energy framework for 2030, the Commission has chosen the latter”, said the European Renewable Energy Council’s President, Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes. “What’s more, the Commission is undermining its own findings from the impact assessment and has opted for less growth, fewer jobs and more spending on fossil fuel import.”

A European Commission consultation document (or 'Green Paper') for the EU's 2030 climate and energy policy 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 renewables should make up by 2030.

But the consultation document suggests that any new energy savings goal be delayed until after a review of progress towards reaching the bloc’s 2020 target in June 2014, despite recognising that this goal was 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.

  • February 2014: European parliament Plenary will vote on their position on 2030 targets, which conflicts with the Commission's
  • March 2014: EU Council will discuss climate and energy issues
  • May 2014: New EU Parliament to be elected
  • May 2014: EU member states must prepare schemes for their energy companies to deliver annual energy savings of 1.5% as part of the Energy Efficiency Directive
  • June 2014: Review of progress towards meeting the 2020 energy efficiency target
  • June 2014: EU Council will discuss energy and climate issues
  • 2020: Deadline for EU states to meet binding targets for 20% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in energy efficiency, and market share for renewable energy

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