The European Parliament has voted against the European Commission’s proposal to drop a binding 2030 renewable energy target for EU member states.
On 22nd of January last, as part of its 2030 energy plan, the European Commission supported a binding renewable energy target at EU level but proposed that it should no longer be binding at national level.
At Wednesday’s plenary meeting, the parliament called “on the Commission and the Member States to set a binding EU 2030 target of producing at least 30 per cent of total final energy consumption from renewable energy sources; stresses that such a target should be implemented by means of individual national targets taking into account the individual situation and potential of each Member State”.
It should be noted that the Parliament is proposing the renewable energy target must be 30 per cent rather than the more modest 27 per cent set by the Commission.
While the European Parliament vote is not binding, it sends a strong signal to EU governments ahead of ministerial meetings on 3 and 4 March and a heads of government summit on 20-21 March, where EU 2030 climate and energy targets will be hotly debated.
Meanwhile a group of leading European electricity firms has requested binding emissions reduction targets and an expansion of the EU’s carbon trading scheme. The group delivered a manifesto to the bloc’s energy commissioner who has come in for criticism for comments he made which suggested a watering down of the 40 per cent target announced by the European Commission just a fortnight ago.
Eurelectric’s manifesto was delivered to policymakers, as they prepare to debate the EU‘s next wave of climate and energy policies.
The group, which is Europe’s electricity industry union, handed energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger a ‘manifesto’ calling for EU and national policymakers to adopt an economy-wide, binding 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target of at least 40 per cent compared to 1990 levels.
They urge Oettinger and his colleagues to take measures that would “re-orient energy policy towards cost-efficiency and competitiveness”.
The group – which includes high profile energy technology firms, such as Areva, Siemens, and IBM, as well as utility trade associations such as EnergyUK – advocates extending the EU’s emissions trading scheme to other sectors after 2020, increasing investment in modernising Europe’s electricity networks, and removing of regulated electricity prices that “distort” the market.
Hans ten Berge, Eurelectric secretary general, said: “Policymakers must take greater care to avoid policy-induced inefficiencies and market distortions that are unnecessarily pushing up the costs of providing electricity and raising the bills for Europe’s customers.”
“National regulatory initiatives without consideration for their impact on other member states cannot remain the rule. Only a true European approach can ensure renewed investment in the future – to the benefit of European businesses and households alike.”
Meanwhile Oettinger has come in for criticism for comments he made at a BusinessEurope conference. He said he favoured Europe going for a 40 per cent GHG reduction target “not 50 per cent or 60 per cent which isn’t realistic and would be an arrogant move”. He added that “Europe alone can’t save the world. What is needed is a globally binding climate agreement in Paris next year”.
Euractiv website reports that Oettinger appeared to suggest that 40 per cent was the limit of the ambition and that the German-born commissioner would be in favour of reducing that figure to 35 per cent.
“It’s an ambitious compromise and I am a little bit sceptical,” he told delegates at the conference. “I have to be constructive as I’m a member of the team but I’m sceptical.”
However the commissioner’s office insists that Oettinger has not broken ranks with the Brussels consensus in his speeches, just maintained that a 40% CO2 cut is ambitious.
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