The European Union’s governing bodies have this week sealed negotiations on three separate objectives of the so-called Energy Union including the previously-reported 32% renewables target, as well as a goal of 32.5% energy efficiency savings and a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Late last week the European Union announced that it had come to an agreement after intense negotiations to set in place a new renewable energy target of 32%, up from its previous target of 27%, but still well below the hope of some countries which had been pushing for 35%, and campaigners who had been pushing for 45%.
Negotiations have continued as part of the European Union’s larger ‘Energy Union’ agreements, and two new targets have been set in place for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.
On Tuesday, the European Commission announced that new rules for improving energy efficiency across the EU had been agreed upon between the Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council. The new target will see the EU work towards a 2030 energy efficiency target of 32.5%, with a clause to revise upwards in 2023.
“Europe is by far the largest importer of fossil fuel in the world,” said Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete.
“Today we put an end to this. This deal is a major push for Europe’s energy independence. Much of what we spend on imported fossil fuels will now be invested at home in more efficient buildings, industries and transport. The new target of 32.5% will boost our industrial competitiveness, create jobs, reduce energy bills, help tackle energy poverty and improve air quality. Our path to real energy security and climate protection begins here at home, and this deal shows Europe’s determination to build a modern economy that is less dependent on imported energy and with more domestically produced clean energy.”
In addition, the EU negotiators also agreed upon a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 40%. Additionally, however, negotiators agreed and announced that they would aim for a net-zero emission economy “as early as possible.”
“After agreeing on renewable energy last week, and on energy efficiency yesterday, today’s deal is another major delivery in our transition to clean energy,” Miguel Arias Cañete added on Wednesday.
“For the first time we will have an Energy Union Governance, fixed in the European Union rule book, encompassing all sectors of the energy policy and integrating climate policy in line with the Paris Agreement. When finalised by the Member States in their national plans, this will translate into the right investments to modernise the EU economy and energy systems, creating new jobs, lower energy bills for Europeans and reduce costly energy imports to the EU. One thing is certain, with the Energy Union governance we have the necessary stepping stone for the preparation of Long-Term Strategy to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming up the planet and changing the climate.”
The response to the EU’s new targets, however, was unsurprisingly tepid, with climate campaigners unhappy with the relatively unambitious energy efficiency targets set by the EU.
“With a warming planet and rising energy poverty across the continent, today’s energy efficiency deal is a let down for the climate and Europe’s energy-poor,” said Clémence Hutin, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe. “National governments have doggedly resisted breaking away from our wasteful energy model. Opting for this low, non-binding target will fail to drive the energy saving investments Europe needs, and is a missed opportunity for emissions cuts, decent homes, cheaper energy bills, and local green jobs.”
“This low, non-binding 2030 energy efficiency target will go down in the history books as a missed opportunity, despite the best efforts of the European Parliament and several progressive Member States,” added Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office. “It puts the EU far off course in terms of the Paris Agreement, climate action, cleaner air and better jobs.”
“Finally the EU is waking up to the challenge of climate change,” Imke Lübbeke added a day later in response to the call for net-zero emissions.
“Getting rid of its outdated 80-95% emissions reduction target, and replacing it with a commitment to net zero emissions, is critical for meeting the Paris Agreement goals. The wording agreed this morning is a clear call on the European Commission to come up with pathways to net zero for 2050 and even well before in its mid-century roadmap, due by March 2019.”
“The weak rules on enforcing the targets lack teeth. At a time when Europe’s renewables investments are shrinking and others are taking the lead in the global market-place, these anaemic rules are the last thing we need.”
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