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Climate talks to set 2030 targets for Europe

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On the 22nd of January the EU commission will propose new renewable and efficiency targets for 2030.

There are deep divisions between the commissioners, and European businesses are lobbying for what they call more realistic targets.

Discussions this month are to deliver frameworks that will be agreed in March by national leaders.

The 2030 energy and climate target discussions include:

* 20-45% renewables targets suggested by various parties. 27% appears to be the key number being discussed with some countries asking for no target at all.

* Discussions are based on the EU’s ’20-20-20′ targets, which were set in 2008. The talks are intended to extend and detail this plan. A call for a 20% emission reduction were based on ’90 levels, a 20% share of renewable energy and 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020. The first two targets are binding, and the third is suggested.

* 35-40% reduction in emissions.

* Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal have called for a 2030 renewable target in addition to carbon goal.

* The utilities oligopoly are against a renewable target, as well as SME groups and heavy industries.

* In favour of the target are technology companies such as Almston, the renewables lobby in its various EU associations and a number of high profile companies that are pursuing the sustainability agenda e.g. The Prince of Wales’s EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change.

My thoughts:

* A 40% renewables target makes sense but it has to be coupled with an ambitious efficiency target of the same proportion.

* Energy efficiency is the ultimate renewable and we should push for stronger targets. That’s the way to decouple from carbon and rising cost of energy in the first place.

* Let’s not forget that the pivotal discussion point must be carbon. It’s not enough to set targets, we need an approach where innovation and low carbon products are incentivised while the perverse allowances for heavy industry e.g. carbon allowances are discouraged.

Anyway, whatever they decide, it will be a relatively futile exercise as most of Europe’s carbon footprint is carbon imported in the form of food and manufactured goods from elsewhere. And so far, embodied carbon is badly measured, let alone taxed or incentivised.

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