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EU Commission split over 2030 climate targets

Commissioners for Industry and Economy stand accused of blocking ambitious goals as row deepens in Brussels

(Pic: EU)

(Pic: EU)

By Ed King

The European Commission is split over what the European Union’s 2030 climate and energy targets should be just nine days ahead of their planned release.

A meeting on Friday ended without a firm resolution over a greenhouse gas emission reduction target, along with energy efficiency and clean energy goals.

RTCC understands that a 2030 emission reduction targets of 35-40% is being discussed, with informal meetings likely to continue in the coming week.

It is unclear whether the Commission can agree on efficiency or renewables targets. Reuters reports a renewables goal of 24-27% is “under discussion”.

On Friday the climate and energy ministers of Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, Spain and the UK wrote to Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard insisting on a 40% target.

“An ambitious greenhouse gas target of at least 40% domestic emission reductions will be central to unlocking the tens of billions in low carbon investments we urgently need, driving forward cutting-edge innovation, jobs and growth that will strengthen our economies,” they said.

This position was supported by two powerful Parliament committees last week, which 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.

Last week the Prince of Wales’s EU Corporate Leaders Group, which counts Tesco, Vodafone, Shell and Unilever as members, said only a 40% target would “give the right long term signals for investments” within the Union.

ANALYSIS: EU competitiveness at stake in 2030 targets row

While the Commissioners’ 2030 White Paper due out on January 22 will only be a recommendation and subject to review from the Parliament and member states, it will be hugely symbolic.

A UN climate deal is scheduled for 2015, and the EU’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions is seen as the benchmark for other countries to base their own targets on, a point noted in the letter from the six ministers.

“To play this leading role, the EU must have an early, clear and ambitious position on its domestic emission reductions through to 2030, and must set early European policies  and regulations to implement its safe and sustainable decarbonisation strategy,” they say.

An EU source speaking on condition of anonymity told RTCC that the Commissioners for the Economy and Industry, Ollie Rehn and Antonio Tajani, were being blamed for pushing for less ambitious goals.

“This is a very important document,” said the source, adding that “heated conversations and lobbying” could be expected in Brussels over the next week.

The complex discussions are compounded by a rapidly changing political situation at the top of European politics.

The region’s far right parties are expected to win large numbers of seats at Parliament elections scheduled for April. Many of these groups, such as UKIP from the UK, are openly hostile towards any climate policies.

The European Commissioners will also leave office at the end of 2014, and are looking to their legacy before they depart.

One report last week suggested the Commission President José Manuel Barroso is prepared to drop a binding green energy goal if he can secure a guaranteed emissions reduction target.

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  • Guenier

    “… the EU’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions is seen as the benchmark for other countries to base their own targets on … ”

    By whom? Not I think China, India, South Africa and the other Non-Annex 1 countries (http://unfccc.int/parties_and_observers/parties/non_annex_i/items/2833.php).

    • darcy_2k

      If the EU reduces Carbon emissions, China’s would also reduce given that both economies are integrated. China makes the majority of Western goods…. Similarly, India is a big exporter of grains for food and beer.

      • Guenier

        That might have been true many years ago. But today China’s economic integration is mostly with other “developing” economies. China’s overriding priority today is to continue the growth of its economy. Remember: access to cheap, reliable energy (largely derived from coal-burning power stations) has enabled about 600 million people in China to escape grinding poverty. The Chinese government intends to continue that process.

  • Phillip2

    UKIP is not a far-right party. It is a party of pragmatists, which has the interests of the UK and all its citizens at its heart. It is a party which believes that policy should be based on evidence and not that evidence should be created to support policy. The unelected and dictatorial EU commission creates evidence to support its extreme left-wing aims.

    • darcy_2k

      Its all good and well that UKIP have UK interests at heart, and I for one am all for more citizen involvement with the EU. However, taking a consistently UK centric view of things is not always the best way to go – even for UK interests. And anyway, when was the last time anyone voted for Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Governer of the Bank of England?

  • J S

    It is obviously a pleasing conceit in the murky corridors of EU power to see themselves as ‘leaders’ in this area. But what are they leaders of? Foolishness, it would seem to me, is the gentlest category that applies. Leaders of idiocy and ignorance are two that might appear next if I were to shift a little further along the scale towards harsh reality. The climate scare usiness has been an artificial success. Mother Nature has not complied with its diktats. The EU, on the other hand, has.

  • daisymay

    Humans have been wageing war on planet Earth for decades. Nature is now fighting back, and this is what we deserve. Such a pity that the innocent animal species will suffer too.