The European Commissioner for Energy, Gunther Oettinger, launched the EU’s Green Paper on the 2030 Framework for Energy and Climate Policies on Wednesday.

The consultation document formally opens the debate on the EU’s policy instruments beyond 2020 and proposes a new package of carbon and renewable energy targets for 2030.

Gunther Oettinger

The paper contains a proposal to reduce carbon by 40 per cent across the member states by 2030 while also suggesting that 30 per cent of energy be driven by renewables by that year.

Mr Oettinger told the media at the launch, “We want to make sure that industry and investors will get clarity through this green paper on how we will go forward after 2020.”

Oettinger added a carbon target alone would not be enough to achieve the EU climate change targets, and therefore a renewable energy goal should also be set for 2030.

The EU is currently on track to meet its target of cutting emissions 20 per cent by 2020 and generate 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by the same date, but businesses had been critical about the lack of a target after that date, which it is felt would undermine confidence in investing in low-carbin infrastructure projects.

A discussion paper on the future of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) was also prominent at the event with Oettinger indicating a more supportive policy to evolve in terms of the technology’s role in the 27-member bloc.

He told the media in Brussels that, “coal consumption continues to increase and gas is used for electricity and heating and also produces CO2, so we think it is essential to capture and store CCS in future use”

The technology is expected to play a vital role in meeting climate change targets cost-effectively, but its development is proving to be painstakingly slow.

The document proposes requiring carbon intensive businesses or suppliers of fossil fuels to buy CCS certificates to match their direct or embedded emissions, and seeks views on a mandatory emissions performance standard for all new investments, limiting a fixed amount of emissions per unit.

Meanwhile other sectors were anxious that the EU pay more heed to clean energy, when formulating policy into the next decade.

Sabine Froning of Euroheat & Power, which represents 24 national district heating associations and more than 6000 district heating schemes in Europesaid, “Future EU climate and energy policy must have a greater focus on efficient and renewable heating and cooling as they are key elements towards a low carbon economy.”

“The European Commission should now use the public consultation process to look closely at these sectors and develop a comprehensive energy policy framework which fully integrates heating and cooling, as requested by the Council3 and the European Parliament”.

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