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European Parliament Seeks Binding Targets On 2030 Emissions, Renewables, Efficiency

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

By Stephen Gardner

Feb. 5 --The European Parliament voted Feb. 5 in favor of the European Union's adopting binding greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy and energy efficiency targets for 2030, a position that puts it at odds with the European Commission and with many EU member states.

According to a nonbinding resolution approved by European Parliament lawmakers sitting in Strasbourg, France, the EU should agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels, to achieve a 40 percent energy saving from projected business-as-usual levels through efficiencies, and to have renewables provide 30 percent of consumed energy, all by 2030.

The resolution, which lawmakers adopted in a 341-263 vote with 26 abstentions, confirmed a joint position taken Jan. 9 by the European Parliament's environment and industry committees .

But since then, the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has published proposals under which the 28-country bloc would be bound to a 40 percent emissions cut and an overall 27 percent renewables target by 2030, but there would be no legally binding energy efficiency target .

The Parliament is likely to lose out in the debate on EU climate and energy objectives through 2030 because any binding target would have to be approved by EU member state governments, some of which, in particular Poland, are calling for less-stringent targets because of fears that their economic growth will be harmed.

Commission Criticized

According to the Parliament resolution, the overall EU emissions, renewables and energy efficiency goals should be broken down into country-by-country targets that would take into account levels of wealth and capacity to invest to achieve the targets.

By contrast, under the commission proposal, only the emissions-reduction target would be implemented through binding national targets. The 27 percent renewables target would be an overall EU target with no national sub-targets, and has been criticized as “unenforceable” by some lawmakers .

Some lawmakers and campaign groups said the EU should reject the commission's proposal and adopt a 2030 climate and energy strategy modeled on the European Parliament's nonbinding resolution.

Matthias Groote, a German center-left lawmaker who is chairman of the European Parliament environment committee, said in a statement that the adoption of the resolution showed that what the European Parliament “considers necessary in terms of climate policy is miles away from the short-sightedness shown by the European commission.”

Anne Delvaux, a Belgian center-right lawmaker who sponsored the resolution, said the EU should take on binding emissions, renewables and energy efficiency targets for 2030 as the best way to achieve a “broad energy mix with greater energy efficiency,” which would be the “best option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to encourage new technologies and innovation, create jobs, and change our economies into greener economies.”

Frederic Thoma, energy policy adviser for Greenpeace, said that “with its call for binding targets today, the Parliament has drawn a line in the sand to give investors the certainty they need.”

Member States to Discuss

EU member state environment ministers are scheduled to discuss the commission's proposals March 3. EU leaders will then discuss the bloc's climate and energy policy through 2030 at a summit March 20-21.

EU targets for 2030 would build on a current mandatory emissions cut of 20 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, and a goal for renewables to provide 20 percent of energy by 2020.

Raphael Sauter, a senior policy analyst with the Institute for European Environmental Policy, told Bloomberg BNA that the European Parliament vote “shows that at least in the Parliament the majority is in favor of continuing the leadership role of the EU in these areas.” However, it was “rather doubtful” that the Parliament's position would be accepted by EU member states represented in the EU Council, Sauter said.

“Very few member states are very outspoken in favor of a more ambitious approach,” and some countries, including Poland, are “very opposed” to tougher climate and energy targets, Sauter said.

'Keep Up the Momentum.'

He added that the EU should adopt binding climate, renewables and energy efficiency targets to “keep up the momentum in these areas,” and to promote the degree of investment needed for longer-term decarbonization of the EU economy.

Konrad Szymañski, a Polish center-right lawmaker who initially sponsored the parliament resolution along with Delvaux but later withdrew his support, said that the EU was making “a mistake” in discussing targets for 2030 ahead of an international deal to tackle climate change.

A doubling of the EU's emissions reduction target from 20 percent in 2020 to 40 percent in 2030 would “reduce the competitiveness of European industry,” and the EU “should not show all our cards today before our [international] partners say what they mean,” as part of global climate negotiations, Szymañski said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Gardner in Brussels at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com


The European Parliament procedure file on the resolution on the EU 2030 climate and energy framework is available at http://bit.ly/1lEJ3pu.

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