EU Climate Policy: A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030
European Commission revealed at the end of January its new plans for tackling climate change and energy, outlining the policy targets for 2030. The aim of the proposal is to follow up EU policies on currently valid and widely commented EU targets to achieve by 2020 respective 20% targets in reduction of greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions below the 1990 level, in share of renewable energies and in energy efficiency.
The key elements of the new proposal are the binding targets in the reduction in GHG emissions by 40% and renewable energy share 27%. The document further proposes a number of policies enabling to achieve these targets, in particular a new governance system and the reform of the EU emissions trading scheme.
The proposal presents a compromise between different views of EU Member States and different stakeholders influencing the EU position on climate change and the use of energy. Strong industrial lobbies continue to use their power for diminishing the targets and to soften proposed policies. Arguments of this kind are well summarised in words of the European Parliament’s industry and energy committee rapporteur: “Increasing the binding target for energy from renewables to 27% does not take into account the electricity price impact of this policy. Raising the CO2 reduction target to 40% is at best premature.”
On the other hand, the proposal has been immediately after the release criticised by environmental groups as ‘inadequate’ and ‘lacking the ambition’. The press statement of Aprodev and ACT Alliance call the proposal as ‘woefully inadequate’ and as ‘a slap in the face for the millions of vulnerable poor people in developing countries.’
One of widely criticised elements of the proposal is a step back from keeping together the triad of emission target, energy mix and energy efficiency. In the presented approach a possible rising of energy efficiency in the EU is planned to be examined more closely once a review of existing targets is concluded later in the year.
The Church and Society Commission of CEC took part in the public consultation which preceded the Communication (spring 2013). In its contribution the CSC underlined: ‘The 2030 targets need to be consistent with the Roadmap for achievement 2050 targets. Any targets below the 40% reduction of GHG emission and 30% share of renewables, stated in the Roadmap as necessary precursors for 2050 targets undermine credibility of the EU. If EU wants to retain integrity as a leader on the global scene, as well as to win trust of its own citizens then these targets should be considered as minimal level for meaningful aspirations.’ Over against this background the tabled proposal tackles the minimal level of a satisfactory ambition. However, as it was stated at the last Dialogue seminar on climate change (October 2013), the major problem of the EU climate policy to overcome is not the lack of ambition inside the European Commission, but decreasing political will among the EU Member States for EU to play a leading role in proactive climate policies.
Before the proposal is adopted as law it has to be agreed by the European Council. The first discussion may take place at the meeting in March. However the adoption process may take up to 12-18 months.
An EU agreement on a GHG targets 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.