Parliament wants clear targets for future EU energy policy

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By 2020, the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and produce 25% of its primary energy through renewables, according to a report adopted by the European Parliament on 14 December.

The Parliament’s resolution foresees the following concrete targets:

  • 30% CO2 reduction by 2020 and 60-80% by 2050;
  • 25% of primary energy production from renewables by 2020 and a road map to reach 50% by 2040;
  • energy efficiency improvements of 20% by 2020.

Parliament also recognises the role that nuclear energy can play in the energy mix of some member states, but leaves it up to the individual countries to decide on the future of nuclear power. A proposal pushed by the nuclear lobby to generate 60% of Europe’s electricity from “non-carbon emitting technologies” was defeated.

British Conservative MEP Giles Chichester hit out at Labour rapporteur Eluned Morgan. "The Labour MEPs have voted against renewable and nuclear energy. This was a veritable double whammy against sustainability and security of supply. My sympathies go to Tony Blair who once again has been let down by his representatives in Europe," Chichester said.

Green MEP Claude Turmes  was more positive: "The EP has today sent a strong message that climate change must be the bottom line for EU energy policy, and that energy efficiency and renewables should get prime place in the forthcoming EU energy strategy review."

EREC, the European Renewable Energy Council, welcomed the EP targets on the use of renewables. However, it warned that an upcoming renewable energy road map to be proposed by the Commission in January will not live up to the Parliament's ambitions.

According to a draft version of the road map seen by EREC, the Commission would propose a new binding target for renewable energies at 20% of the EU's overall energy consumption by 2020, a level significantly higher than the current target, set at 12% for 2010.

But industry observers and Brussels diplomats say this will not go through, since only Germany and Denmark have so far supported it.

As a trade-off to EU member states, the Commission is said to propose that sector-specific targets for transport and electricity be abandoned altogether. As a result, EREC fears all targets will be dropped in favour of "vague measures and ambiguous commitments". "It is crucial to keep the sectoral targets if Europe’s prime position is to be maintained," EREC said. "Anything else would be a disaster for RES investors and send a negative signal to markets across the world." 

"The draft road map, as it stands, would undermine existing law, create a legislative vacuum for many years to come and fire up widespread investor uncertainty," EREC further warned.

The European Parliament adopted the Eluned Morgan report on the Commission's Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy on 14 December 2006. MEPs recommend setting binding targets for greenhouse-gas reduction and energy efficiency. They also expressed support for more use of renewables but left the decision whether to use nuclear power to member states.

  • The Commission is expected to adopt an extensive "energy package", including an energy strategy review on 10 January 2007.
  • Do you agree with the targets set by the European Parliament? Should the EU be more courageous on nuclear energy? Send a Letter to the Editor.

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