The European commission has voted to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and set a minimum EU-wide target for renewable energy of 27%. The announcement has left many campaigners, investors and businesses, who were calling for a 55% carbon cut, dissatisfied.
The commission’s president José Manuel Barroso said that the 2030 goals were critically important to provide investment certainty.
“We are beyond the debate where you either have to been green or a defender of industry. [They] can perfectly go together”, he said.
The commission has agreed on a 40% carbon emissions reduction target by 2030 and said that at least 27% of energy in Europe – not in each state – should come from renewables by that date. A 25% indicative energy efficiency target has also been set.
Barroso said that the commission decided not to set national binding targets, as these “do not allow us to reach targets in most cost effective way”.
When asked why the renewables target was so low, Barroso said that it was functional to the greenhouse gas cuts and renewables were not “the end in itself”.
Despite the commission’s satisfaction over the agreement, green campaigners and businesses are less enthusiastic over the new EU energy and climate framework.
Martin Schoenberg, head of policy at environmental investment group Climate Change Capital, said, “A 40% reduction target is the minimum necessary to signal continued political commitment and provide greater certainty for the energy industry and its investors.
“European leaders need to endorse the 40% target to tackle the carbon bubble. Overvaluing high-carbon assets will come to an end when we realise the behaviour of these companies cannot continue and institutional investors will realise their assets are in the wrong place.”
Greenpeace UK director John Sauven called the new policy “toothless”, and said, “After months of bickering and infighting, 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.”
Meanwhile, humanitarian NGO CARE International’s climate change advocacy co-ordinator Sven Harmeling commented, “The commission’s proposal ignores the severity of the most recent warnings from scientists about the increasing scale and pace of climate change and the need to keep global warming to below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
“The EU is also sending the wrong signals 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.”