In brief: The EU’s new 2030 climate and energy package
- 22 Jan 2014, 13:30
- 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.
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
The EU's own impact assessment suggests emissions could be cut
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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