Lord Stern says the EU must halve its CO2 emissions by 2030 – not just cut by 40%
Renowned economist, Lord Nicholas Stern, says an ambitious climate change target would boost certainty for investors in energy efficiency and in renwables, in the UK and Europe. The EU should halve its carbon emissions, from their 1990 level, by 2030. Ahead of the launch of the IPCC 5th assessment report, Lord Stern said “vacillation” by the UK government on its commitment to cutting carbon was very damaging to investment in low carbon technologies. While the UK has adopted targets to halve CO2 emissions by 2025 and put the UK on course for a 60% cut by 2030, these are due to be reviewed next year, and could be altered if the UK finds it is out of sync with lower ambition in Brussels. The EU is considering a 40% cut by 2030, but even that is not enough – Lord Stern believes this needs to be a 50% cut in total emissions and a 30% share of renewables in the energy mix. The EU is already on track to meet its target of cutting emissions 20% by 2020, in part thanks to the economic crisis which has reduced output. Meanwhile, on EU aviation CO2 emissions, the uncertainty remains of even their inclusion in the ETS.
Lord Stern: EU must halve emissions by 2030
Renowned economist says ambitious climate change target would boost certainty for investors in the UK and Europe
By Jessica Shankleman (Business Green)
24 Sep 2013
The European Union should set an ambitious goal to halve emissions from 1990 to 2030, in order to help build confidence among businesses and other countries that it is serious about limiting climate change risks.
Lord Stern, former World Bank chief economist and author of the landmark 2006 report on the costs of climate change, also said setting a strong carbon reduction target was more pressing for the EU than specific technology targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Speaking to reporters today ahead of this week’s launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment, Stern warned that “vacillation” by the UK government on its commitment to cutting carbon was very damaging to investment in low carbon technologies.
The UK has adopted targets to halve carbon emissions by 2025 and put the UK on course for a 60 per cent decrease by 2030. But these are due to be reviewed next year, and could be altered if the UK finds it is out of sync with ambition in Brussels.
“So in that context, the European Union deciding soon to go to 50 per cent reductions by 2030 would be a major contribution to the overall clarity,” said Stern.
The Commission now intends to present concrete legislative proposals on its 2030 climate and energy package by the end of year, and has already floated plans for a 40 per cent carbon reduction, plus a 30 per cent share of renewables in the energy mix.
But Stern maintained a 40 per cent reduction would be too modest, given that the bloc is already on track to meet its target of cutting emissions 20 per cent by 2020, in part thanks to the economic crisis which has reduced output.
“If you take the sluggishness of this extended period… targets which were set some time ago, look modest because emissions are closely related to output. So 40 per cent would look and be quite modest, and wouldn’t be much of acceleration down the path we need to go.”
But Stern said he also agreed with Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, who is opposed to fresh EU renewable energy and energy efficiency targets.
Green businesses are lobbying for a legally binding 2030 target on renewable energy, warning that the current investment momentum will be lost without a longer term target in line with the long investment cycles in the energy sector.
But Stern said an overall carbon target was more important than technology-specific targets.
“I understand the UK is pushing very strongly, and rightly so for a 50 per cent reduction on 1990-2030 on greenhouse emissions.
“That’s very important, and I trust that in so doing it will move quickly to confirm the fourth carbon budget.
“Both of these things would restore confidence in where the EU is going and they would go some way to meeting the problem of lack of credibility in the climate policies in the European Union,” he added.
Europe weighing 40% 2030 carbon-cutting goal: EU sources
By Barbara Lewis (Independent)
Sep 19, 2013
(Reuters) – European Union regulators are considering doubling the bloc’s target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and setting a tougher binding goal for renewable energy use, EU sources said.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive, outlined new targets earlier this year but has yet to follow up with a firm legislative proposal. That is expected around the end of the year.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one source said the Commission was considering two legal targets to follow the three green energy goals that expire at the end of this decade.They would be a 40 percent carbon-reduction goal and a 30 percent renewable energy use target. That compares with the 2020 targets of a 20 percent carbon cut from 1990 levels, a 20 percent share of renewable energy and a target to improve energy savings to 20 percent.
“The Commission at the moment is looking at a 40 percent domestic greenhouse gas target and a 30 percent EU-wide renewables target, but no third target,” the source said, adding some commissioners opposed the goals and debate would be difficult.
In addition to cutting domestic emissions by 40 percent, another source said the EU could commit to further cuts through international offsets if a global climate change deal is agreed.
The source added Commission experts were analyzing the economic impact of a 35-45 percent range for carbon cutting.
Traditionally, EU climate policy has been the preserve of the Commission’s climate and energy departments. But Europe’s economic struggles have prompted influential officials, including EU Economic and Monetary Affairs chief Olli Rehn, to insist green policy must not undo fragile recovery.
The European Union’s goals can influence the international debate on climate change and also have a bearing on the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which fell to record lows earlier this year under the burden of surplus permits.
Tougher policy goals could help to limit the oversupply of carbon allowances.
If agreed, the new European goals would be more ambitious than other nations have managed.
The U.S. Senate has refused to legislate cuts favored by U.S. President Barack Obama and Australia’s new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who won power last month, has promised to scrap taxes on carbon pollution.
Still, environmental campaigners say the 2030 EU carbon-cutting goal should be 60 percent.
“The greenhouse gas numbers that the Commission is currently going for gives us only a 50:50 chance of preventing run-away climate change,” said Brook Riley, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth (FoE).
He said the range used to model the economic impact was far too low and the Commission was putting short-term political pragmatism before science.
The Commission does not comment on proposals before they are published.
Speaking in Vilnius, where EU energy ministers are meeting on Thursday and Friday, Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said only the debate was open.
“It’s up to member states to bring some input, to bring some constructive priorities,” he told reporters.
Member states appear deeply divided. Denmark has advocated a new set of three targets, but others, including Britain, have said they want just one carbon-cutting goal.
EU member Poland, which will host the next U.N. talks on climate change in Warsaw this year, says the European Union should not make any promises until there is a global deal, which is not expected until a U.N. summit in Paris in 2015.
Even U.N. officials have voiced concern that nations will not promise sufficient carbon cuts.
Echoing disagreement at the government level, the business community is also divided on the need for binding EU targets.
An open letter to EU energy ministers and commissioners, signed by 61 companies and associations, including energy firms Alstom and Acciona, called for a binding 2030 renewable goal, but did not specify a level.
(Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo, Andrius Sytas in Vilnius and Nina Chestney in London; editing by Jason Neely)
Europe must cut emissions 55% by 2030 to tackle carbon credit glut
Greenpeace calls for major strengthening of 2030 emissions target, as European Commission seeks to shrink list of companies receiving free permits
By Jessica Shankleman (Business Green)
12 Jun 2013
The European Commission should aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions 55 per cent against 1990 levels by 2030 if it is to tackle the glut of allowances that has undermined the price of carbon in its flagship emissions trading scheme (ETS).
But the new report, published yesterday, argues that much steeper cuts of around 49 per cent will be needed if the bloc is to remain on track towards its goal of 80 per cent cuts by 2050. Additionally, it argues that the current surplus of permits from the EU’s ETS, now representing around 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon, would mean even more demanding targets will be needed to stop polluters simply holding on to excess allowances and using them to continue to pollute through the 2020s.
As a result, Greenpeace is now calling on the Commission to up its ambition and set a 55 per cent carbon reduction target, which would both put the EU on track towards its 2050 goal and wipe out the surplus supply of credits in the ETS.
Greenpeace EU climate policy director Joris den Blanken said the 40 per cent proposal put forward by the Commission was “woefully inadequate”, given the impact of a failing ETS. If the EU fails to agree a short-term backloading plan to prop up the carbon price next month, the surplus is expected to grow to two billion tonnes by 2020, meaning that without later action to retire excess credits the market will continue to be dominated by over-supply through the 2020s.
“The EU needs a stricter 2030 target if it wants to keep the ETS alive and avoid the most severe effects of climate change,” he said.
Greenpeace’s proposals are closer to the UK’s plan to introduce a 50 per cent CO2 reduction target for 2030. However, unlike Greenpeace the UK has rejected proposals for a renewable energy target that would sit alongside the greenhouse gas goal.
Ecofys director of energy and climate policy Niklas Höhne said any new emissions target must take into account the effectiveness of the EU’s ETS.
“Given the currently expected surplus, the 2030 target or the trajectory towards it would need to be significantly more stringent than otherwise,” he said.
The report comes just a day after the Commission revealed plans to reduce the number of sectors that receive free carbon allowances from 2020. The so-called Carbon Leakage List, which is designed to address industry concerns that the ETS will push up the cost of doing business in Europe prompting some firms to migrate overseas, currently includes 154 sectors and 16 sub-sectors for the period 2009-2014, including steel and cement.
But green businesses and NGOs have argued the list is outdated, as it was drawn up in 2009 and based on a carbon price of €30 per tonne. In reality, the glut of allowances has pushed the carbon price to lows of €3 per tonne.
Any plans to shrink the carbon leakage list are likely to be contested by heavy industries, which argue the ETS is pushing up the cost of energy. Once approved, the new list will apply from 2015 to 2019.
However, a spokesman for Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told BusinessGreen that to date nocompanies have quit the EU citing the carbon price, suggesting the concept of “carbon leakage” is currently more of a perceived than a real threat to industry.
“We’re just giving all these free allowances to sectors today under the assumption that the carbon price is €30,” he said. “So they are getting a huge surplus of allowances and that’s one of the reasons why we want to revise the list.”
Some of the groups campaigning for the EU to tackle the oversupply of allowances in the carbon market have argued in the past that if efforts to reduce the supply of carbon credits are blocked then the Commission should take steps to limit the distribution of free allowances to businesses.