UPDATE 2-European Commission outlines 2030 green energy goals

March 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News


Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:35pm EDT

* Campaigners want another set of three ambitious goals

* Business tends to favour less regulation

(Adds detail, comment)

By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS, March 12 (Reuters) – The European Commission has
outlined new targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and
using more green energy by 2030, according to a policy paper
seen by Reuters.

The paper reflects industry demands that climate goals have
to take account of the economic crisis but still presses for an
economy that produces less carbon and is less dependent on
expensive fossil fuel imports.

The 27-member bloc has sought to take the helm of the
international fight against climate change, with more ambitious
carbon-cutting goals than the rest of the world.

So far it has a set of three 2020 green energy and climate
policy targets, which both green campaigners and industry, keen
for investment guidance, say need updating.

The new paper puts forward the idea of a 40 percent cut in
carbon emissions versus 1990 levels and a goal that renewables
will supply 30 percent of all energy needs, both by 2030. It
stops short of any number for a new energy savings target.

That compares with three 2020 policy goals to cut carbon
emissions by 20 percent, increase renewables to 20 percent and
improve energy savings by 20 percent.

The paper states there is “broad consensus” that new targets
are needed and that the crux of the matter is to decide on the
appropriate level, taking into account economic crisis and the
level of climate commitment beyond Europe.

A 40 percent cut in emissions, it says, strikes the balance
between upfront investment and long-term cost.

“A reduction of less than 40 percent would increase the
costs of decarbonising the economy over the longer term,” it
says.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

Environmental campaigners say the Commission is missing an
opportunity for more ambitious targets that would kick-start the
economy by saving on fossil fuel imports, creating jobs in the
renewable sector and preventing the problem of a much bigger
emissions-cutting task later.

“It’s to help the economy, not in spite of the economy,”
Friends of the Earth campaigner Brook Riley said.

“On the one hand, they are looking beyond 2020 and they are
talking about numbers. For sure that’s a good thing,” he added.
“But the level of ambition is dangerously inadequate.”

Officials of industrial lobbies could not be immediately
reached for comment.

The Commission does not comment on unpublished drafts, but
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has said he supports the
idea of a new renewables goal and a carbon target, unlike some
in industry who say that just an emissions goal would be enough.

He has said, however, it is too soon to set another new
energy savings goal, given that the debate was only reopened
last year with a new Energy Efficiency Directive to try to get
the bloc closer to achieving its current 20 percent target.

Roughly speaking, the European Union is on track to meet the
other two 2020 goals.

Last month, the Commission held a 2030 debate. Public
comment will be invited after formal publication of the policy
paper, expected this month, pending legislative proposals.

The provisional targets are already hinted at in road maps
drawn up to guide policy until the law can be agreed.

The low-carbon road maps to 2050 note that by the middle of
the century the European Union needs to cut its emissions by 80
to 95 percent from 1990 levels to limit global warming to 2
degrees Celsius, the level scientists say would fend off the
most devastating effects.

The 40 percent 2030 goal would be a staging post towards the
bottom end of the 80-95 percent cut, Tom Brookes, a director at
climate think-tank the European Climate Foundation said.

“Higher ambition now can put us on track towards a 95
percent reduction, which science tells us is necessary, while
also incentivising use of Europe’s indigenous energy resources,”
he said.

The European Union, which the Commission holds responsible
for only around 11 percent of global emissions, has sought to
lead international efforts on climate change.

But the failure to get nations beyond Europe to agree to
carbon-cutting goals has led some EU member states to argue the
bloc is at a competitive disadvantage.

Poland, heavily dependent on carbon-intensive coal has
rejected attempts to make EU climate targets more stringent.

Warsaw will host the next U.N. climate summit at the end of
the year to try to build on flimsy progress in Doha in 2012,
when scientists warned the chances of preventing the worst
effects of climate change were receding.

(Additional reporting by Nina Chestney in London,; editing by
Rex Merrifield and James Jukwey)

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