Climate fears as EC waters down energy goals

EC wants binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the EU by 40 per cent. Picture: Getty
EC wants binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the EU by 40 per cent. Picture: Getty
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The European Commission has watered down plans to tackle climate change after refusing to set renewables targets for individual countries.

While commissioners announced a European Union-wide target for renewables sources of 27 per cent by 2030, there will be no mandatory targets for member states.

The EC said that it wanted binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the EU by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.

But the commissioners scrapped renewables targets after lobbying from a number of countries, including the UK.

The EC said they would prevent countries cutting emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the most cost-effective way.

Green campaigners said yesterday that the new targets for 2030 fell “far short” of measures needed to avoid dangerous global warming.

But EC president Jose Manuel Barroso said setting a binding European target for emissions sent a “very important signal” to investors. He said: “An ambitious 40 per cent greenhouse reduction target for 2030 is the most cost-effective milestone in our path towards a low-carbon economy.

“And the renewables target of at least 27 per cent is an important signal: to give stability to investors, boost green jobs and support our security of supply.”

Commissioner for climate action Connie Hedegaard said the EC’s decision not to impose country-level targets for renewable energy provided the extra flexibility needed in the policy to ensure the framework would be backed by the 28 EU governments.

However, Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “On climate change, Europe is aiming to achieve less by 2030 than Scotland plans for 2020. A 40 per cent target is far short of what is needed to ensure the world avoids disastrous climate change.

“This is a victory for big polluters but a major disappointment for anyone looking for Europe to play a leadership role in UN talks about future global targets. Weak targets in Europe will mean slow development of the green energy market, but Scotland can and must continue to be a pioneer of renewable energy technologies.”

Officials emphasised that goals would have to be achieved “through domestic measures alone”, meaning member states could not offset reductions in warming gases by paying for carbon cutting in other countries.

Some countries, including the UK, had urged the EC to put forward a bigger emissions reduction target of 50 per cent by 2030, while others held out for just 35 per cent. Some climate campaigners had suggested a 
55 per cent cut was needed.

But Ms Hedegaard said, given the economic climate, the figure set out marked a significant advance. She said: “A 40 per cent emissions reduction is the most cost-effective target for the EU and it takes account of our global responsibility.”