The EU’s Heads of State and Government finally decided on a climate and energy package for 2030 which lacks ambition and fails to respond to the unfolding climate crisis. The package adopted by the EU Council on October 24th sets a target of at least 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and at least 27% for renewables and energy savings.
The negotiations for the European Union’s headline policies on climate change have undergone several phases and upside-downs, now closing at record low, in terms of target-setting. In February, the European Parliament showed leadership and ambition up to par with the urgency of the underlying issues, by rejecting the Commission’s low ambition proposals and calling for three binding targets: at least 40% greenhouse gas cuts (compared with 1990 levels), at least 30% energy share from renewables in the final energy consumption and 40% energy savings (in line with research on cost-effective energy saving potential), binding at the member state level.
With such low GHG ambition, the EU failed to send a strong and clear signal worldwide before the critical, upcoming climate negotiations leading to COP21 in Paris in 2015. Moreover, compared to the Commission’s own impact assessment in January the renewables target is barely above business as usual, whereas the energy savings target will certainly fail to yield the impressive benefits demonstrated in the recent energy efficiency review. Small improvements could be achieved as the energy efficiency target will be reviewed in 2020, with the possibility of being upgraded to 30%. With this decision the EU is clearly in danger of retracting from its role as a global leader in climate policy, while also failing to build on the momentum gained by its own progress in clean energy technologies
As stated by Jason Anderson, Head of EU climate and energy policy at WWF’s European Policy Office, “[t]hese renewable energy and efficiency targets are near or even below business as usual trends. The carbon market will remain irrelevant for a decade and there’s nothing here to reign in coal power. Europe’s early efforts to combat climate change and advance clean energy have been set adrift by Council.
The coming months will be crucial to avoid the worst implications of this decision. The EU will need to revise its target upwards, as it is asking other countries in the UN to do. Those Member States who see the benefits of climate action will try to fill the void with domestic policy, but action will be fractured, and an EU policy response will be necessary.”
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