On Wednesday 22 January the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso outlined the EU executive’s strategy to reduce GHG emission and shape the bloc’s energy policy in the next decade. The document includes a binding greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below the 1990 level, an EU-wide binding target of at least 27 percent for renewables’ share in overall energy use, and “renewed ambitions towards improving energy efficiency”. It is accompanied by a legislative proposal for a market stability reserve in the EU emissions trading system starting in 2021, and for a new governance system. It also provides a set of new economic indicators to assess progress in building on “market integration, supply diversification, enhanced competition, development of indigenous energy sources”.
According to EU Commission release, the emission reduction target would be met through domestic measures alone, not allowing compensation through international credits. The annual reduction in the cap on emissions from EU ETS sectors would be increased from the current 1.74 percent to 2.2 percent after 2020. Unlike the emission goal, the EU-level target for renewable energy would not be translated into national objectives, leaving flexibility for Member States to transform the energy system according to national preferences and circumstances. The 2030 energy efficiency target will be defined after a review of the Energy Efficiency Directive scheduled for June 2014.
Major EU companies and utilities supported the position that overly stringent targets will drive business out of Europe, already up against low growth and rising energy costs, making it harder for the bloc to compete. The document has been criticised by green groups and some low carbon investors, accusing the team of Commissioners of offering a weak set of measures.
The EU Parliament will vote the proposal in a plenary session scheduled on February, and the EU Council is expected to consider the framework on March. The 2030 blueprint will replaces current targets of 20 percent emission reduction, 20 percent share from renewables and 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 (the first two being likely achievable according to the latest official figures).
(Image: European flags in front of the Berlaymont building, headquarter of the European Commission, Brussels, Belgium. Credit: Flickr-TPCOM)