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Commission proposal a major setback for EU climate leadership

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Commission proposal a major setback for EU climate leadership

Wednesday 22 January 2014

[Brussels]The European Commission White Paper on the EU’s 2030 climate and energy policy framework published today spectacularly fails to address dangerous climate change and threatens to derail progress made to date in developing clean technologies.

The disappointing White Paper proposes a demonstrably inadequate 40% domestic greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) target for 2030 together with a 27% renewables target that represents barely more than a business-as-usual scenario and most crucially fails to set targets for Member States [1], and postpones discussions on an energy savings target. The plans fall far short of the EU’s international commitment to play its part in halting global warming to below 2°C and will undermine the prospects of the EU playing a leadership role in negotiations towards the adoption of a new international climate agreement in Paris in 2015.

“The Commission’s proposal falls well short of what science tells us is needed to address the devastating consequences of climate change and shows a serious lack of vision and leadership by President Barroso,” said Jeremy Wates, EEB Secretary General. “By siding with the fossil-based business interests of yesterday, President Barroso appears to have abandoned the progressive business interests of tomorrow and the prospects for Europe to take a global lead in moving towards a sustainable low carbon economy.”

The EEB would like to see post-2020 EU climate policy based on three ambitious binding targets for 2030: at least 60% GHG reductions, 45% of energy coming from renewables and 40% energy savings. This would put the EU firmly on the path to actually achieving the necessary emissions reductions in the longer-term which the EU has already agreed to. [2]. Binding renewables and energy savings targets are necessary to continue the market transition that has started under the 2020 package towards green energy and technologies that create jobs and growth in Europe. Lobbying from the tired fossil fuels industry, which has its fingerprints all over the Commission’s proposal, should not be allowed to scupper this progress. For example, tapping the EU’s cost-effective end-use energy savings potential of 41% would result in over €239 billion annual savings net for households and industry as a result of lower energy bills [2].


Worse still, the Commission announced in the White Paper to discontinue after 2020 its flagship policy to decarbonise transport fuels, the Fuel Quality Directive, despite this being a powerful instrument to avoid the EU importing ever dirtier fossil fuels from tar sands. This policy has been the subject of ferocious lobbying by Canada with whom the EU is about to sign a free trade agreement. The announcement to discontinue shows how under a pretext of free trade, environmental protection in Europe is put on the line.

In addition to the White Paper, the Commission also published a recommendation in relation to the use of the controversial Hydraulic Fracturing Technology to extract Shale Gas known as fracking. The EEB regrets that the Commission decided to pander to the Member States gearing up to produce shale gas on their territories rather than present a legal proposal that would put in place a binding framework to protect the environment and the health of European citizens from the likely impacts of fracking operations.

Where the Commission has failed to provide the necessary vision, the leaders of the EU member states and the European Parliament must now ensure that the necessary ambition is put back into EU climate and energy policy. This includes agreeing sufficient targets on greenhouse gas emission reduction and sustainable renewables and ensuring that a binding energy savings target is set as part of the review of the Energy Efficiency Directive this summer.

ENDS


[1] The Commission’s publication ‘EU Energy, Transport and GHG Emissions Trends to 2013’ found that the share of renewables in gross final energy consumption will reach 24% by 2030 without additional targets. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/observatory/trends_2030/doc/trends_to_2050_update_2013.pdf
[2] The EU has committed to cutting emissions by 80-95% cut by 2050 [2] Fraunhofer ISI, Concrete Paths of the European Union to the 2°C Scenario, 2012. Available at: http://energycoalition.eu/sites/default/files/Fraunhofer%20ISI_ReferenceTargetSystemReport.pdf
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest federation of environmental citizens’ organisations. It is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our aim is to ensure the EU secures a healthy environment and rich biodiversity for all.

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Susanna Williams EEB Policy Officer for Energy and Climate Change susanna.williams@eeb.org or telephone +32 496 30 35 10.

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