EU proposes 40% emissions cut for 2030

By John Parnell

The EU has suggested a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Announced at a press conference in Brussels today, the plans will undergo a consultation process before eventually replacing the existing 2020 goals.

The new framework will also explore ways to speed up the development of carbon capture and storage, establish a new renewable energy target and divide up responsibility for the policies between the 27 member states.

At present, the EU has targeted a 20% cut in emissions, a 20% energy share for renewables and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. Fresh targets for an increased share of clean energy and further efficiency measures will be announced later.

“The climate and energy policies have to go hand in hand,” said Connie Hedegaard, European climate action commissioner.

“Globally climate change is getting worse, at the same time, EU dependency on energy imports is increasing. [Doing nothing] is unwise for our economy, our competitiveness and the climate,” she said.

“It’s an environmental imperative and an economic necessity. Those who say we should wait don’t understand how climate is interlinked to our economic future,” she added.

(Source: Flickr/waldopics)

The so-called 20:20:20 targets were set prior to the recession in 2007.

“We must realise some Mediterranean states have had to change their energy policies and we recognise some central European states have focussed on industry but we want to get them all onside. We must be prepared to make compromises,” said Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

The EU is currently attempting to revitalize it’s flagship Emissions Trading Scheme, but reforms have struggled to gain momentum.

Not enough climate

NGOs offered a mixed response to the proposals with concerns that there was too much emphasis on economic prosperity and not enough on averting the climate crisis.

Speaking to RTCC, Wendel Trio, the director of Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe) said presenting the economic arguments had taken priority.

“I think when this was discussed among the commissioners the majority felt there was a need to give sufficient attention to competitiveness and energy prices, this was their main concern,” he said.

“I think Hedegaard and a few other commissioners supporting her, have been trying to make it more balanced but across the whole commission competitiveness has been more important than climate change,” he said.

Jason Anderson, head of EU climate and energy policy at WWF stressed the link between prosperity and presenting an adequate response to the threat of climate change.

“Remarkably, this paper overlooks what we’ve learned about the reason these policies exist: the ever-increasing evidence of the rapidity of climate change,” said Anderson in a statement.

“Unless we avert dangerous global warming, all other goals – economic, social, and environmental – will fail. Competitiveness, social welfare and climate protection are not tradeoffs: not only can we deliver them all, we must,” he said.


Read more on: Climate politics | EU