EU’s new climate and energy package – to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030

The European Commission has announced new energy and climate targets for the EU. It has 3 current targets – on (1) greenhouse gases, (2) renewable energy, and (3) energy efficiency – to see it through to 2020. The current announcement is about what the EU would do to 2030. Carbon Brief gives a handy short summary of the key points. (1) The target for cutting EU carbon (excluding international aviation and shipping, and embodied carbon in imports) is for a 40% cut by 2030. This will have to be done by the member states’ cutting emissions at home, instead of funding projects abroad as offsets. This target is weaker than many green campaigners had called for, but stronger than the alternatives that some member states and commissioners were championing right to the final stages of the negotiations. The 40% is not ambitious, but it might be considered to be broadly in line with the EU’s longer term target to reduce emissions by 80% of their 1990 level by 2050. However it is not enough to help prevent the world warming by 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels – the minimum level of ambition agreed by 192 countries in 1992. Others suggest the level should be a 55% cut, or more, by 2050 to make a serious contribution. Aviation needs to play its part in this, rather than being allowed to increase its carbon emissions. 



In brief: The EU’s new 2030 climate and energy package

  • 22 Jan 2014 (Carbon Brief)
  • Mat Hope

 Credit: Rock Cohen

The European Commission today announced new energy and climate targets for the EU. Here are three things you really need to know:

1. The targets

The EU has three existing targets – on greenhouse gases, renewable energy, and energy efficiency – to see it through to 2020. Today’s announcement was about what the EU would do to 2030.

Climate target:

To reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. This will have to be done by the member states’ cutting emissions at home, instead of funding projects abroad.

Renewable energy target:

The commission has recommended that the EU seeks to get 27 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. It doesn’t require specific countries to adjust their policies to meet the goal, however.

Energy efficiency target:

Today’s announcement did not set a new energy efficiency goal. The role of energy efficiency policies will be clarified when the commission publishes an Energy Efficiency Directive is published later this year.

2. The climate goal isn’t wildly ambitious

Despite the EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, claiming that new climate goal was “not a small statement, it’s a big statement” of the EU’s intentions, the 40 per cent target isn’t particularly ambitious.

The EU’s own impact assessment suggests emissions could be cut by about 32 per cent if countries carried on implementing climate and energy policies as expected. The 40 per cent goal is more ambitious than some commentators were expecting, however. There had been speculation that the commission would recommend a 35 per cent emissions reduction goal.

While the 40 per cent goal is broadly in line with the EU’s longer term target to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, it might not be enough to help prevent the world warming by two degrees above pre-industrial levels – the minimum level of ambition agreed by 192 countries in 1992.

The 40 per cent goal is the “least ambitious” target the commission could have proposed if it remains committed to limiting warming, environmental consultancy Ecofys argues. It says the latest research suggests the EU should instead be aiming for a 50 per cent reduction.

Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre on Climate Research goes further. He argues that if the climate is a bit more sensitive to greenhouse gases, or emissions peak later than scientists thought they would back in 2007, the EU’s new target should be closer to an 80 per cent reduction.

3. It’s not clear how the EU will ensure countries ramp up renewables

The new 2030 renewable energy target represents a change of approach by the European Commission.

Previously, countries had specific targets to go alongside the wider EU goal. The commission today decided to give countries more flexibility, making the target binding for the region, but not specific countries.

That could mean that some countries – most likely Germany – take most of the burden of increasing the EU’s renewable energy generation, while other countries do little. The commission’s president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said it would ensure renewable energy policies across the region “add up” to 27 per cent, but didn’t specify how.

In the end, it could come down to the EU trusting countries to fulfil their climate promises and hoping renewable energy plays a large part in their efforts.

The 27 per cent target is also not very ambitious. The commission’s own analysis suggests renewable energy would provide about 24 per cent of the the EU’s energy in 2030 even if there were no targets.

That could explain why Barroso said he thought the overall package was “ambitious, but feasible”.

Next steps for the EU’s 2030 climate targets:

  • February 2014: European parliament votes on its position on the commission’s 2030 target proposal.
  • March 2014: Member state ministers and heads of state discuss the 2030 target in the EU Council
  • June 2014: Commission releases the energy efficiency directive
  • June 2014: Member states potentially meet again to discuss energy and climate issues
  • 2020: Deadline for EU states to meet old 2020 greenhouse gas, renewable energy, and energy efficiency targets





EU to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030

UK overruled in landmark climate deal that requires bloc to produce 27% of its energy from renewable sources

 news conference on the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy EU2030, EC headquarters, Brussels

European energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger (l), EC president Jose Manuel Barroso (c) and climate chief Connie Hedegaard at the EU2030 Framework for Climate and Energy conference in Brussels. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Europe will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, the toughest climate change target of any region in the world, and will produce 27% of its energy from renewable sources by the same date.

The landmark deal was reached after grinding negotiations dragged onto the deadline of 11am on Wednesday, as warring factions within theEuropean commission and member states fought over whether to water down the proposals.

The EU is now the first to set out emissions reduction targets ahead of a crunch meeting of world governments in Paris in 2015 that will decide a global framework for avoiding dangerous levels of global warming. Every other major developed and developing economy is expected to set out its own binding national emissions target within the next year, for the United Nations talks to go ahead.

Ed Davey, the UK’s energy and climate change secretary, bitterly opposed the renewable energy target, but was overruled as big member states including Germany, France and Italy backed it.

Davey said: “Today’s proposals are a step in the right direction towards an ambitious emissions reduction target for Europe. They provide the flexibility to tackle climate change in the most cost-effective way, so that British consumers aren’t paying over the odds to go green.” But he added that “the UK remains concerned about any renewables target.”

Europe’s emissions trading system will also be reformed as part of the 2030 energy and climate package, with a more flexible mechanism to allow the surplus of carbon permits to be curbed, and member states will have an “indicative” target – that is, not legally binding – of improving energy efficiency by 25% by 2030.

Disputes behind the scenes meant that the unveiling of the blueprint, the biggest climate initiative delivered by Brussels since 2008, was delayed by 40 minutes.

The targets are weaker than many green campaigners had called for, but stronger than the alternatives that some member states and commissioners were championing right to the final stages of the negotiations. The Guardian understands that some commissioners were calling for an emissions target of only 35%, compared with 1990 levels, while the UK failed to gather support for its own opposition to a bindingrenewable energy target. Studies show that the EU’s emissions are likely to be 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, making the targets easier to meet.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission, told a press conference on Wednesday: “We want this package to be owned by all Europeans. We believe that this package is ambitious but realistic.” He said Europe had shown it was a leader on tackling climate change.

The measures will be debated by member state governments and the European parliament, before they can be fully accepted. The European council, made up of the heads of state or government of the EU member states, will discuss the proposals in March.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate chief, hailed the compromise. She said: “If all other big economies in the world do a relatively ambitious effort equal to what we are now proposing, the world will be in a better state when it comes to combating climate change.”

However, reaction to the deal was mixed. The European Wind Energy Association said that the renewables target included in the deal, which had been in doubt until the final moments, was too weak and would cost potential jobs as a result. Thomas Becker, chief executive of the industry body, cited a study from the European commission that found a 30% target on renewables could have created more than 560,000 jobs and boosted economic growth by saving on expensive fuel imports.

The 27% renewables target may be easily achieved by 2030 not least because Germany, the world leader on renewable power and the EU’s biggest economy, is implementing a radical energy shift away from nuclear into renewables.

Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, strongly supported both the renewable energy and emissions targets. Unlike the UK, she said Berlin was keen to have binding renewable targets and added that the 40% carbon cut was the minimum acceptable to Germany. At the UN climate talks in Paris next year, she said, it was entirely conceivable that Europe would move beyond the 40% carbon reduction target.

Harry Verhaar, head of global public and government affairs at Philips, said: “Today’s proposal falls short of expectations of European companies looking for a strong framework to invest and innovate in Europe. The omission of a binding energy efficiency target is particularly disappointing. European policy-makers must realise 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.”

Mahi Sideridou, managing director of Greenpeace, said the deal was not strong enough: “The January sales are on and it looks like Europe’s dirty energy companies have bagged a bargain. The commission’s plan for 2030 is a sell-out that would knock the wind out of a booming renewables industry. European citizens will pay the price [in] fewer green jobs, more imports of expensive fossil fuels and shorter lives because of pollution.”

Monica Frassoni, president of the European Alliance to Save Energy, said: “This is a depressing day for Europe. 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 – 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.”




EU 2030 climate and energy targets – Greenpeace comment

22 January, 2014

Commenting on the EU climate and energy package announced today, Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven said:

“After months of bickering and in-fighting the European commission has produced a set of proposals that will satisfy almost no-one. They will do little to tackle climate change and in their current form give little certainty to Europe’s once thriving but now fragile clean tech sector. They would also leave European consumers hopelessly exposed to rising fossil fuel prices, which is what drove up energy bills in the first place.

“The commission has set out its broken stall – it’s now up to Europe’s elected leaders to fix it. They must agree to cut greenhouse gases by at least 55% by 2030 if they wish to play a meaningful role in a new global climate deal and help reduce the devastating impacts of extreme weather. They must also put in place a renewables policy that will give genuine confidence to those wishing to invest in Europe. Anything less will see Europe fall further and further behind the US and China in the global race for clean energy markets.

“This toothless policy, which involves no legal obligation on member states, has the fingerprints of a UK government in hock to the Big Six energy giants written all over it. David Cameron now has a clear choice ahead of him. He can go to Brussels and fight for British interests – which means supporting a genuinely binding renewables target that works for our world-class clean energy sector – or he can sacrifice the stability of the climate and the future of British industries in an attempt to buy off his party’s anti-green clique.

“Building a UK’s clean energy system will also be cheaper for consumers if we do it with our European partners. Grid interconnections, expanded markets and economies of scale will all help drive down the costs of renewable energy – whilst isolating our energy system from that of our nearest neighbours will pile more costs on UK tax-payers and bill payers”


Five reasons why a genuinely binding renewables target makes sense

1. UK leadership: Thanks to its position as a world leader in the field of offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies – something David Cameron himself likes to boast about – the UK would only benefit from a binding target that will increase supply chain certainty across the EU, sharpening market appetite for clean energy tech across the continent. This means more opportunities to export the cutting-edge technological know-how developed in Britain over the last few years, reaping the rewards of our ambitious investment.

2. Energy security: A binding target would encourage European interconnection and regional co-operation. A more interconnected EU grid would reduce the cost of keeping the lights on because of more effective sharing of energy resources. It would also create opportunities to export surplus UK renewable power at times of low UK demand, thereby generating revenues for the UK

3. No extra cost for consumers: The UK’s share of the EU’s renewable targets currently under discussion is lower than the level of renewable energy deployment illustrated in all the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC’s) 2030 power decarbonisation scenarios. This means that meeting these targets will not create additional costs for electricity consumers. And the alternatives to renewables would hardly be a bargain for bill payers. Ofgem figures show that between March 2011 and March 2012 bills rose by around £150, and about £100 of that was due to the higher wholesale cost of gas.

4. More jobs: The Commission’s own figures show binding targets on renewables and energy efficiency could add half a million more jobs to the sector by 2030 than a binding emissions target alone. This is on top of the 1.2 million jobs the renewable industry has already created across the EU – a 30 per cent increase from 2009 in the midst of the worst recession in a century. In the UK, research shows the offshore wind industry alone could create over 100,000 additional jobs by 2025.

5. Binding targets work: The EU is on track to meet its binding targets to cut emissions and increase the share of renewables but will miss its non-binding energy efficiency goal. This is because binding targets work – they create certainty for investors and cut financing costs. Recent research shows renewable energy sources alone have contributed almost half of all carbon savings achieved in Europe between 2008 and 2012, putting the EU bloc on track to overshoot its emission target for 2020.





WWF-UK comment:

European Commission dresses up low climate ambition as success

22 January 2014

WWF is disappointed by today’s weak European Commission outline of EU 2030 climate and energy policies. By suggesting a greenhouse gas emissions target out of line with climate science, as well as a low renewable energy target which places no legal requirements on member states, the Commission appears to be putting the brakes on modernising Europe’s energy system.

Jason Anderson, Head of Climate and Energy, WWF European Policy Office said: “After months of anticipation, the Commission has repackaged a slowdown in the current pace of emissions cuts and renewable energy deployment, and called it ambitious. It is putting Europe’s economic modernisation at risk.

“The picture painted by the full set of policy proposals is dispiriting – an energy efficiency target has been deferred; cancelling the massive oversupply of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme is also deferred; closing the gaps in EU shale gas legislation is deferred. I’m sure the fossil fuel lobbyists will sleep well tonight.

“It is now up to Member State governments to show the political leadership needed to inspire Europe towards an industrial and economic revolution that will provide for both people and the planet.”


Notes to editors:

1. Today ahead of the white paper’s publication, leading NGOs including CAN Europe, WWF, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, APRODEV, Carbon Market Watch, EEB, HEAL and Women in Europe for a Common Future staged a cry for HELP! in the front of the European Commission – calling on the European Commission and the EU Heads of State and Government to put EU climate ambition back on track with what its citizens – and science – are calling for. Pictures of the actions are available here: 

2. WWF is calling for EU targets on greenhouse gas cuts (at least 55%), renewable energy generation (at least 45%), and energy savings (at least 40%), which are legally binding and effort shared between Member States. Further details can be found in WWF’s response to the European Commission Green Paper on a 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies –