Increased ambition from Europe hinges on global agreement in 2015 say insiders
By Sophie Yeo
The European Union looks set to agree to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, according to MEPs and analysts RTCC has spoken to.
It currently has a target to cut gases that cause climate change 20% by 2020, which is set to be reviewed in January 2014.
It’s a critical moment for the international climate process, as whatever figure the EU releases will be taken as its pledge for a global climate change treaty, set to be signed in Paris in 2015.
Deep splits among the bloc’s 28 members mean a 50% cut, which the UK has suggested, or 60% recommended by the European Green Party are unlikely to gain support.
And according to Tomas Wyns, a climate policy expert at the Centre for Clean Air Policy in Europe, the EU has not conducted any analysis into how it could reduce its emissions beyond 45% by 2030, indicating it will not be discussed next year.
“The exercise towards 2030 goals should at least include this higher or upper end reduction in the modelling to offer transparency on how it impacts the economy and how it relates to ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, so that’s a pity,” he told RTCC.
Bas Eickhout, an MEP representing the European Green Party, said that the lack of ambition in terms of an emissions target came down to the failure to calculate the potential for energy efficiency and renewables in this period.
He says the EU’s energy branch run by Günther Oettinger is an obstacle to the Climate Commission in the negotiations.
“One of our main criticisms of the Commission is that the scenarios they are calculating are very modest on the efficiency and renewables again, and therefore they don’t come up with numbers higher than that [45%]” he said.
“The decision on what to model is political in the end.”
The targets, due to be released on January 22 will determine the EU’s climate policy up until 2030. Already, it has almost hit its 2020 targets, six years before they are due to expire.
This means that the Climate Commission is under pressure to produce a more ambitious set of new measures for 2020 and 2030.
A leaked draft of the 2030 draft package shows that the EU is currently considering a variety of scenarios that would add up to a 35-45% reduction in emissions.
This is in line with the EU’s Low Carbon Roadmap towards 2050, which says that to reach an overall aim of an 80-95% reduction by 2050, the EU must reduce its emissions 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040.
According to UK Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, there is “no chance” the EU will agree to take more than a 40% emissions cut before a global deal is struck, outlining concerns over high energy prices and a loss of EU competitiveness.
The UK is currently the only member state pushing for a 50% emissions reduction target in the new deal, although only on the condition that similarly ambitious targets are set internationally.
He told RTCC: “UK’s support for 50% depends on there being a global agreement, otherwise in reality it’s 40%. I see no chance of the EU agreeing to go above 40% by domestic means alone in the absence of a global agreement.”
Efficiency and renewables
Exactly how the new agreement will be arranged has yet to be decided. Many hope that, like the 2020 package, this will include a three-tiered approach, incorporating separate targets for emissions reductions, energy efficiency and renewables.
Belgium is one of the many member states pushing for three separate targets. Its Environment Minister Melchior Wathelet told RTCC ambitious targets in each of the “three pillars” is important.
“We have to make real investment, we have to make progress. That’s true in CO2 emissions, but especially maybe in energy efficiency because we know what we can do.”
Ville Niinistö, Finland’s minister for the environment, told RTCC that it was important that the new deal took into account the growing potential for renewable energy in Europe.
“There are a number of magnificent examples how for example photovoltaic has increased in productivity in countries like Germany and Finland,” he said.
“Biomass has increased and biofuels have also been very encouraging so we look forward to raising our share of renewables in the energy mix, which is about 30% today.”
Eickhout added that Germany was likely to be a powerful force in demanding a renewable energy target as “it’s crucial for Germany that Europe is moving in the same direction that Germany is moving.”
Wyns said: “What we see is that in general there seems to be a tendency to go to a renewable energy and a climate target, but an overall energy efficiency target is not something we think will be proposed.”