1400 – Here’s a final summary of today’s EU 2030 package before we focus on news coverage
-The European Commission has a proposed a 40% cut in emissions based on 1990 levels by 2030
-This will be backed by a binding renewables target of at least 27% at EU level
-Green groups say the targets are too low, EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard says they are “ambitions”
-The EC plans to reform Europe’s carbon trading system by 2020 to help prop up prices
-Shale gas industry will not be subject to tough new regulations, a win for the UK and Poland
-These proposals will not be debated in the European Parliament and by member states
John McGarrity will be tweeting from the EC press briefing at 1pm and the UK briefing at 3.10pm.
1304 – What’s really interesting is that this is effectively the first pledge for the proposed UN climate agreement that is slated to be signed off in 2015.
.@EU_Commission keeps EU on track by recommending Europe-wide 40% emissions cut target by 2030.Positive signal for meaningful 2015 agreement
— Christiana Figueres (@CFigueres) January 22, 2014
If you’re wondering how this all fits together, the key dates for your calendar are below:
February: European parliament vote on their position on 2030 targets
March: EU Council to discuss climate and energy targets + UN climate negotiations on 2015 deal
May: EU Parliament elections
June: 2020 energy efficiency target progress review, EU Council to discuss climate and energy targets + mid-year session of UN climate talks in Bonn
September: Ban Ki-moon ‘Climate Leaders’ summit in New York
November: UN to release draft text for 2015 climate agreement + US mid-term elections
December: COP20 UN climate summit in Lima, Peru
1255 – Here are the views of some of the major NGOs. As you might expect, they’re not happy with the ‘level of ambition’
Sven Harmeling, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator at CARE International: “If the EU does not deliver its fair share of emissions reductions through the 2030 climate and energy package and live up to its responsibilities, it will be condoning the devastation of millions of livelihoods and increasing poverty for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. The EU is also sending the wrong signal to high-emitting developing countries that are unlikely to agree to the required drastic emissions reductions commitments in any new global climate treaty if the EU fails to do so. We call on European governments and parliamentarians to improve their plans so that the EU can lead by example and step up its climate action from now until 2030. There is not a moment to lose.“
Jason Anderson, Head of Climate and Energy, WWF European Policy Office: “After months of anticipation, the Commission has repackaged a slowdown in the current pace of emissions cuts and renewable energy deployment, and called it ambitious. It is putting Europe’s economic modernisation at risk. The picture painted by the full set of policy proposals is dispiriting – an energy efficiency target has been deferred; cancelling the massive oversupply of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme is also deferred; closing the gaps in EU shale gas legislation is deferred. I’m sure the fossil fuel lobbyists will sleep well tonight. It is now up to Member State governments to show the political leadership needed to inspire Europe towards an industrial and economic revolution that will provide for both people and the planet.”
Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven: “After months of bickering and in-fighting the European commission has produced a set of proposals that will satisfy almost no-one. They will do little to tackle climate change and in their current form give little certainty to Europe’s once thriving but now fragile clean tech sector. They would also leave European consumers hopelessly exposed to rising fossil fuel prices, which is what drove up energy bills in the first place. The commission has set out its broken stall – it’s now up to Europe’s elected leaders to fix it. They must agree to cut greenhouse gases by at least 55% by 2030 if they wish to play a meaningful role in a new global climate deal and help reduce the devastating impacts of extreme weather.”
1245 – Amid all the negative reaction, here’s a *vaguely* positive note taken by Stephanie Pfeifer, Chief Executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which represents over 85 of Europe’s largest investors worth €7.5 trillion: “Today’s proposals are an important first step to restoring investor confidence in the EU’s vision for a low-carbon energy future. A 40% emissions reduction target is the minimum necessary to keep Europe on course for a low-carbon economy as outlined in the EU’s 2050 Roadmap. Achieving this target is well within member state capabilities and crucial for long-term policy certainty. Plans for reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme have been long-awaited and the establishment of a reserve mechanism which can support a strong carbon price is a welcome move. However, investors would like more clarity on how this reserve mechanism will bring about a meaningful carbon price over the long-term.”
1241 – That’s the end of the press conference – we’ll bring you more reaction plus news from European Council and UK Department of Energy and Climate Change briefings that are taking place in London from 1pm UK time.
1240 – Barroso is now addressing claims that business leaders will not be happy: “It’s true some elements of business are not happy with this level of ambition … we believe we can address this,” he says. But he adds that some parts of business are “very much in favour and are global leaders”. Hedegaard adds: “all business leaders who claim energy costs are high because of EU climate policies should read this cost analysis” (the EU released a cost analysis with ths overall package). “There are too many myths in this debate” she adds.
1235 – What are the ‘think tanks’ saying? Here’s a taster from the UK’s Green Alliance and Policy Exchange
Strange arguments: renewables are incredibly cheap and competitive and we must have a target to compel people to build them — Simon Moore (@SMoore1984) January 22, 2014
1234 – Questions continue. Barroso says other countries are “backtracking” on their climate commitments. Hedegaard defends 40% target, arguing it is ambitious and suggesting it could be boosted at the 2015 UN summit (which is along the lines of what the UK has been calling for). Barroso adds that some EU countries did not want to adopt 40%, indicating that many may well try and resist this at the ‘March Council’ meeting. “It’s not going to be easy, and there will be more pressures to put it down than put it up. But it will be an uphill struggle. We need the 28 member states and I believe we can get it” he says.
1219 – Hedegaard says there are still discussions on the Fuel Quality Directive, suggesting it’s not a ‘done deal’. She adds: “The art of politics is to propose something you actually think could get through … imp to think how we can make a more flexible system. If we did not do that, this would be dead. That’s the political reality”
1215 – Question from Euractiv’s Arthur Nelson suggests the EU Fuel Quality Directive has been scrapped, which if so would be good news for Canada’s tar sands producers. Here’s the view from Greenpeace’s Doug Parr:
1206 – Here’s Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate chief. She sounds a little wired, but says the 40% target is a good achievement. On renewables, she sets out the case for why is it important to have a binding target of “at least” 27%? She says there’s a strong commitment at the EU for this. There will be a new governance structure (pending more negotiations) but says the EU needs to have one. She adds that if all other big economies also adopt relatively tough targets “the world will be in a better state when it comes to combating climate change”
1202 – In any event, our livestream has gone for now. Doubtless the EU tech team are working hard to restore it, given how important this is to the region. As we wait, more twitter-analysis is flooding in, and I think this is particularly interesting:
New EU renewables ‘target’ 2030 (27%) actually less ambitious than BP – an oil company – says will be achieved. — Chris Goodall (@ChrisGoodall2) January 22, 2014
1157 – Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger is now speaking. I wish I’d paid more attention to my German GCSE, as I can’t switch to the English translation. I think he’s just said it’s “time for decisions to be taken in good time with a view to new binding objectives of climate & energy policy in Europe.”
1155 – Strong international reasons for coming forward with “concrete and ambitious proposals for future” Barroso says, mentioning UN climate summit in Paris next year. “Having already a debate on this in the European Commission will enable Europe to keep a leadership role and shape global climate action.”
1152 – On European ETS, says he wants an “automatic stabiliser post 2020″ (we’ll look into that later). On shale gas and fracking, says it’s important to guide member states on environmental regulations and health, but adds they do not want to “meddle” in the energy mix of individual states.
1149 – Barroso starts explaining how member states can work together more effectively. Says electricity and gas “interconnectors” are important to ensure EU market is better linked.
Barroso: Shale changing the energy landscape. No mention of its impact on the climate (speech is a small masterpiece of incoherence) #EU2030
— ruth davis (@ruthdavis27) January 22, 2014
1146 – President Barroso is talking. Says it’s no longer contradictory to be ‘green’ and a defender of industry. Stresses renewable target is “at least” 27%, which appears to be a recent change. But there will be no national renewable targets. These “risk the fragmentation of the internal markets” he says and risk a “cost-effective” approach to cutting carbon emissions. “Member states are free to set their own renewable goals” he adds. Targets will need an “overarching governance structure” he says, adding these will be developed in dialogue with member states. “We want this package to be owned by all member states”.
1142 – Press conference is now LIVE
1141 – Here are the views of Nick Mabey from E3G Environment Consultants:
“With these weak proposals, the European Commission has failed to deliver science-based proposals needed to keep the world within 2 degrees of warming. This will stifle investment and reduce the competitiveness of the European economy. European Member States must now fill the gap left by the Commission and agree a stronger package in March that addresses the realities of climate risk and protects the fundamental interests of European citizens and businesses.”
1140 – Not everyone is too impressed with Hedegaard’s tweet (see below)
@RTCCnewswire what planet is she on! at least come clean and say “big business threatened to leave Europe if we’re ambitious, sorreeeee”
— Pascoe Sabido (@pascoesabido) January 22, 2014
1138 – What do you think about this package? Send your views to us on Twitter @RTCCnewswire or use the comments form at the bottom of the page.
1137- Reaction on twitter is filtering through…
We got it: 40% GHG and AT LEAST 27% RES as a BINDING EU TARGET #EU2030
— Connie Hedegaard (@CHedegaardEU) January 22, 2014
— Mark Johnston (@mark_johnston) January 22, 2014
1135 – Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger says his aim is to ensure “energy remains affordable for households and companies”. He adds: “The 2030 framework sets a high level of ambition for action against climate change, but it also recognises that this needs to be achieved at least cost. The internal energy market provides the basis to achieve this goal and I will continue to work on its completion in order to use its full potential. This includes the ‘Europeanisation’ of renewable energy policies”.
1130 – Here are the views of EC President Barroso, who many suspected was keen to back down from tougher climate targets:
“It is in the EU’s interest to build a job-rich economy that is less dependent on imported energy through increased efficiency and greater reliance on domestically produced clean energy. An ambitious 40% greenhouse reduction target for 2030 is the most cost-effective milestone in our path towards a low-carbon economy. And the 27% renewables target is an important signal: to give stability to investors, boost green jobs and support our security of supply”
1126 – Today is also important for Europe’s fracking industry, with a new report out. We’ll have more on that later.
— Janez Potočnik (@JanezPotocnikEU) January 22, 2014
1123 – Interesting that the the 40% percent cut will involve no offsets and member states will be subject to a binding renewables target of 27% at EU level with legal enforcement. “This is a nice victory for Connie Hedegaard,” says an EC source.
1120 – EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard says this proves the Commission is still “ambitious”
“A 40% emissions reduction is the most cost-effective target for the EU and it takes account of our global responsibility. And of course Europe must continue its strong focus on renewables. That is why it matters that the Commission is proposing today a binding EU-level target. The details of the framework will now have to be agreed, but the direction for Europe has been set. If all other regions were equally ambitious about tackling climate change, the world would be in significantly better shape.”
1117 – Here’s the top line from the press release, outlining the agreement. We’re hearing the renewables target will be “at least” 27%.
“A reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% below the 1990 level, an EU-wide binding target for renewable energy to 27%, renewed ambitions for energy efficiency policies, a new governance system and a set of new indicators to ensure a competitive and secure energy system. These are the pillars of the new EU framework on climate and energy for 2030 presented today by the European Commission.”
1115 – There are some *very* pleased people out there, but this is just the start of a process
Lets just remember this is agreed by Commission not all of EU. Council can still alter.
— Bryony Worthington (@bryworthington) January 22, 2014
Lets not forget this package is likely to have to be agreed by a new parliament, likely to be far more right wing than the current one
— Alex Marshall (@alexends) January 22, 2014
1110 – The main EC press release is now out
1105 – so, EU policymakers have proposed that the 28-nation bloc cuts its greenhouse emissions 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels, overcoming pressure from some member states and other Commissioners for a weaker 35% target, according to a Commission source. Sources in Brussels tell us this went to the wire, but is a significant ‘win’ for EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard.
1059 – We have it on good authority that an EU 40% GHG binding target has been agreed. A 27% renewable energy target has also been signed off, which is binding at EU level. More to come.
1051 - So, just under 10 minutes to the EU press conference where EC President Barroso, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger will explain the content of the full package. John McGarrity outlines what it could include:
1) A GHG reduction target of 35-40% by 2030 according to a draft seen by RTCC. The lower end of this range would be extremely controversial, as the EU’s own analysis suggests a reduction of 32% will be achieved through ‘business as usual polices’ mapped out in the current 2020 climate and energy package. Some have branded a 40% cut as ineffective and unambitious, but the EU is likely to present the target as deep enough to put the bloc on a path to cutting emissions at least 80% by 2050. Some EU countries wanted a cut of more than 40% by 2030, confident that renewables and nuclear would help them reach a tougher goal, while coal dependent countries have been demanding a weak target, citing the costs to their industry.
2) The draft suggests the EC will propose a renewable energy target where the bloc will use technologies such as wind, solar and hydro for 24-27% of its power generation Likely to be an EU-wide target rather than binding national quotas for individual member states. The rising cost of energy – particularly for households in Germany – has focused attention on how a rush to renewables can be a difficult sell politically. But supporters of renewables say the costs will fall if targets are in place, and that a burgeoning green energy sector in Europe will reap the benefit through increased demand and millions of new jobs. The Commission says that renewable energy targets will help countries reduce their reliance on increasingly costly imports of natural gas. Imports of fossil fuels are the real reason for increases in household energy bills in the past decade, green groups claim.
3) Few new restrictions on shale gas, but encouragement for carbon capture and storage – Intense lobbying by the UK and Poland seems to have dissuaded the EC from applying a new layer of regulation on shale gas drilling in addition to what is in place at national level. The EC is likely to present findings on whether Europe’s potential for shale gas can play an important role in the bloc’s energy mix and impact energy prices. The EC is likely to voice further support for carbon capture and storage, but utilities and industries will want to see promises of hard cash on the table in the form of subsidies before they agree to invest in the technology.
4) No new energy efficiency target – the failure of the EU to meet its 2020 energy efficiency targets means that a similar legally-binding threshold is unlikely to appear today and details look likely to be delayed until a review of previous directives is published later this year.
5) EU emissions trading scheme – The EC is likely to recommend a reserve where it can intervene in the market from 2021 onwards to prop prices should there be a big fall in demand or increase in supply. A so-called EU carbon buffer could add 13 euros to the 2019-2030 carbon price, according to analysts at Reuters Point Carbon.
1045 – More pictures of chilly protestors outside the EU HQ in Brussels are filtering through. You’d think an issue as important as this would send the masses piling into the streets, Ukraine style. But apparently not.
1040 – On paper there’s not a huge difference between 35% and 40%, but the climate reality is far different, writes Nick Mabey from E3G Environmental Consultants. And even 40% may not be enough, if these targets are really designed to play a part in stopping the planet warming beyond 2C.
“The EU has undertaken a policy process on climate change, but not one which has reflected the evolving evidence base. The EU decided in 2009 that a safe climate pathway was for rich countries to aim for 80-95% GHG emission reductions by 2050. In 2011 the Commission estimated that to reach the weakest end of this range (80% reductions) the EU would need to achieve 40-44% reductions by 2030, compared to a business-as-usual pathway of 32% reductions.
“Therefore, current Commission proposals for GHG cuts of at most 40% by 2030 are barely consistent with even the most optimistic 2009 scenarios for delivering a 50% chance of staying below 2C. But our understanding has changed since these scenarios were modelled. In the last months several synthesis studies have raised likely estimates of climate risk, and restricted the options for mitigation reduction paths. These results – and others like them – should have been incorporated into the 2030 debate and resulted in a revision of proposed EU targets.”
1035 – Plenty of gloom out there from green groups. Others, like Business Green Editor James Murray, say there may be a silver lining, even if the overall ‘ambition’ is lower than previously expected
Lots of negativity about EU climate package. But if it goes for 40%, ETS reform, + some form of tech target that’s big signal for decarb
— James Murray (@James_BG) January 22, 2014
1030 – Another NGO, Climate Action Network Europe, say the EU proposals promise to be unambitious. “This proposal is not in line with science or even the Commission’s own analyses of the multiple benefits of swift climate action,” says CAN’s Wendel Trio. “In order to keep its international climate pledges, the EU must adopt three ambitious, binding targets for greenhouse gas reductions, renewable energy and energy savings. Sadly, such ambition is lacking in this paper.” Trio tells RTCC a new paper was circulating around Commissioners last night, adding it still referred to proposals for a 35-40% greenhouse gas emission reduction target, which campaigners say it too low.
1025 - NGO WWF have just posted this picture of climate campaigners outside EU HQ in Brussels. Looks chilly.
1020 - So why is there so much focus on this White Paper. Here’s a summary from our reporter John McGarrity, who will be following the launch from the European Council’s headquarters in London later today:
“The 2030 package of climate and energy policies, or ‘framework’ as the EC prefers to call it, will attempt to map out the EU’s future climate targets and how it will get there. This is an important document that could help determine how Europe generates electricity in the years to come and how much you will be paying for it. There will be several overlapping and closely interlinked strands from the White Paper to be published today, but EU governments are likely to take 12-18 months to agree a version that can be adopted as law – and final approval by the EU institutions could take further 1.5-2 years, meaning that the framework won’t take legal effect until 2017. Agreement on a GHG cut among member states will be needed by the spring of next year when countries have to submit future carbon reduction plans to the UN ahead of the Paris climate summit late in 2015.”
1005 – More from Hedegaard – she says the EU has higher energy costs because member states put a tax on energy rather than labour, but says EU needs more investment in electric grids, and calls on countries to stop pegging gas price to oil. “Maybe we should start to talk about the risk of low carbon leakage,” she adds. “If you have a price on carbon it can stimulate innovation”.
1000 - EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard has been explaining to local TV channel Vieuws why this package of measures is so important. I think it’s interesting how she deals with the accusation that the region’s tough climate policies have caused heavy industry to leave the EU. She says: “If you really look at it, was that carcon leaking due to climate policies … No. Why? Because we had diff instruments in place, so the sectors inside Europe who were exposed to competition outside Europe from other energy intensive sectors got all or most of their allowances of permissions to pollute for free.”
0950 - Plenty of reaction already flooding in on Twitter. Here’s a taster:
EU must show global leadership on energy targets – we risk failure on climate change without strong carbon emissions target
— Andy Atkins (@Andy2Atkins) January 22, 2014
What is a “fair” contribution of the EU to the 2°C limit? 40% emission reductions by 2030 not enough http://t.co/XrfZ58z1dD
— Svein T veitdal (@tveitdal) January 22, 2014
Big Q for EU climate package: will stronger signal post 2020 combat weak signal now to stop coal refurb. Half of EU capacity needs upgrade.
— Bryony Worthington (@bryworthington) January 22, 2014
0947 - So why is this package so important? In short, it’s much anticipated because it will shape the EU’s climate and energy policies until the end of the next decade, a key staging post for an overall goal to slash emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and help the world avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But it is a White Paper, and that means it marks the start of a wider debate in the EU’s 28 member states.
0945 GMT- Welcome to RTCC’s live blog covering the launch of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy package. I’m Ed King and you can email or tweet your thoughts throughout the day. We’re expecting the White Paper to be released at around 12 GMT today, although it’s understood last minute talks are still ongoing in Brussels. I’ll have more on why this is an important day shortly.