United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said the European Union has been unfairly criticized for dropping nationally-binding renewable energy targets.
The bloc two days ago proposed to cut greenhouse gas output by 40 percent by 2030 and to boost the share of renewables in its energy mix to 27 percent. While the emissions target would be split into national targets for the 28 member states, the renewables goal wouldn’t be split between them. That’s led to criticism from environmentalists and lobby groups that the EU is retreating from wind and solar power.
“I am actually encouraged by what the EU has done, and I think they’ve gotten a little bit of unfair criticism,” Gore said today in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Ban said he agreed with Gore.
The EU is trying to set the lead in fighting climate change while limiting rises in consumer energy bills that have increased in part due to subsidies for renewable energy and carbon pricing. Household electricity prices have risen by an average of 4 percent a year and gas prices by 3 percent a year from 2008 through 2012 across the EU, according to European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm.
The European Wind Energy Association, an industry lobby group, said the EU proposal was “weak” and the renewables goal was a “non-target,” while its solar energy counterpart, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, said it was a “lame-duck” proposal.
‘Off the Radar’
The environmental campaign group Greenpeace called the renewables target “toothless.” Friends of the Earth said in a statement that the package was “totally inadequate” and “off the radar of what climate science tells us to do.”
“Yes, they rolled back the mandated targets for renewables, but they actually moved aggressively forward adopting a binding target for a 40-percent reduction in carbon,” Gore said.
Ban said that the EU “has started the ball rolling” as more than 190 countries work together to devise a global deal to fight climate change in 2015 that would apply from 2020 onwards. Ban is convening world leaders at a meeting in New York in September to try to inject momentum into that process.
The purpose is “that leaders would come out with bold measures and commitments and ambitious targets,” Ban said, calling the EU announcement “positive.”
The new 2030 carbon goal is double the planned reduction by 2020. Both targets use 1990 as a base year.
In contrast to the earlier goal, the 2030 one must be achieved within the EU, according to the proposal, which must still be adopted by national leaders and the European Parliament. To meet the 2020 target, countries and companies can pay for emissions reductions in developing nations to compensate for any excess in carbon output domestically.
“Without these compensations, the cut trajectory to meet our 2050 goal of cutting emissions by 80 percent to 95 percent will be faster,” EU Spokesman for Climate Action Isaac Valero-Ladron said today in an e-mailed statement. “Most importantly, the EU economy will reap all the benefits of domestic emissions reductions: we will attract the investments and technology as we will cut more here.”
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