EU committees vote ‘yes’ to renewables target, but Commission wavers

The Environment and Industry committees have voted in favour of renewables target, amid reports Barroso will drop proposal

Source: Flickr/European Parliament

Source: Flickr/European Parliament

By John McGarrity

Two powerful committees in the European Parliament  this morning backed binding carbon reduction and renewables targets in the EU’s climate and energy package due to be unveiled on 22 January.

A joint meeting of the European Parliament’s environment and industry committees voted in favour of a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels, and a provision that 30% of Europe’s energy comes from renewable sources by the end of the next decade.

Some countries such as the UK oppose a binding renewables target  and instead want more flexibility to use nuclear, energy efficiency, new gas-fired power plants and carbon capture and storage to meet an overall carbon reduction target.

Central and east European countries that are heavily dependent on coal are also wary of specific requirements to  low-carbon energy sources, citing the cost and impact on its heavy industries.

All MEPs are likely a chance to vote on targets in February, by which time the European Commission will have published a white paper on how much it will cut greenhouses in 2030 and how this aim will be met.

Lobby groups that promote the use of renewable energy welcomed the committee vote, adding that it was another strong signal to the EC to propose a binding target for the use of wind, solar and other renewables.

“In its upcoming communication on 22 January, the Commission must propose an ambitious and binding renewable energy target. It cannot deny the findings of its own impact assessment which says a renewable energy target is better for the economy than a greenhouse gas target alone – over 560,000 more jobs,” said Stephane Bourgeois of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

But according to a report today in the European Voice, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso has already agreed to drop a binding renewables target, citing doubts by Commission officials that top-down renewables targets agreed in the current 2020 climate package are suitable for 2030.

A spokesman for the EC President wouldn’t confirm the report, adding that it couldn’t speculate until the white paper is published later this month.

In late December, ministers from 8 EU member states, many of which are major users of renewables energy or  manufacturer low-carbon equipment, wrote to the EC urging a tough renewables target to protect green industries.

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