EU leaders eye deeper 2030 emissions cuts ahead of sign-off

The latest draft agreement targets emissions cuts of “at least” 40% but weakens energy efficiency goal in 2030 package

Poland prime minister Ewa Kopacz arrives in Brussels for European Council meeting (Pic: Flickr/European People's Party)

Poland prime minister Ewa Kopacz arrives in Brussels for European Council meeting
(Pic: Flickr/European People’s Party)

By Megan Darby

European leaders are considering deeper carbon emissions cuts for 2030, a draft text dated 22 October reveals.

Early drafts set the target at 40%. The latest text endorses a binding target of “at least 40%”, leaving the door open to ramp up ambition at a later date.

On energy efficiency, the target was downgraded from 30% to 27%. Nor will it be binding, according to the text prepared in advance of today’s European Council meeting.

And a newly inserted clause extends the power of member states to veto the detailed legislation even after the high-level framework is agreed.

As heads of state arrive in Brussels for a European Council meeting to sign off the 2030 energy and climate change framework, some divisions remain.

A Finnish source close to the talks who did not want to be named told RTCC there were two main outstanding issues: solidarity and interconnectors.

“If those can be solved then a deal is very close,” he said.

Poland is arguing for more money and free emissions permits for its coal-dominated power sector.

Under the 2020 package, poorer member states like Poland are eligible for payments through a “solidarity fund” to help them meet their obligations.

“In the present package there is a level of solidarity and we wouldn’t like to see much more of that in the new package,” said the source. “There has to be something to get all on board.”

Meanwhile, certain states in “energy islands” are keen to build more cables and pipelines to other parts of the continent.

Portugal has been the most outspoken on this agenda, insisting there must be a binding 15% interconnection target, as a proportion of national generating capacity.

A non-binding 15% target popped up in an early draft but was left out of later versions.

ANALYSIS: EU 2030 compromise could weaken climate action

The slightly stronger wording on greenhouse gas emissions reductions will be welcomed by climate diplomats outside Europe.

They say the EU’s commitments will set the tone for negotiations towards a global deal due to be signed in Paris next year.

Sweden recently came out in favour of a 50% goal, while the UK has argued for ambition to be raised in the event of a strong global deal.

But UK climate scientist Kevin Anderson said 40% is far from what is needed to limit global temperature rise to 2C, the long-held political goal.

In an open letter to prime minister David Cameron yesterday, he said at least an 80% reduction was needed for a fair and science-based deal.

Read more on: Climate politics | EU