EU to Seek 2030 Climate, Energy Deal by Year End, Draft Shows

European Union leaders will set an end-of-year deadline for a decision on climate and energy strategy for 2030, according to a draft political statement to be adopted at a summit later this month.

EU heads of state and government in the European Council are scheduled to have a first debate on the framework for the next decade when they meet in Brussels on March 20-21. The challenge for the 28-nation bloc is to reconcile Europe’s ambition to lead the global fight against climate change with pledges to revive the region’s industry and cut the reliance on imports of fossil fuels, a remit that is gaining more attention amid the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

The leaders will ask governments and the European Commission, the bloc’s regulatory arm, to further analyze the impact of new policies on member states, review energy-efficiency measures and develop a plan to prevent relocation of production to regions without emission curbs, the draft shows.

“The European Council will take stock of progress made on these issues at its June meeting, with a view to taking a decision before the end of the year,” according to the draft summit conclusions obtained by Bloomberg News.

The planned framework, under which the commission proposed in January that the EU deepen its emission reductions to 40 percent by 2030, has divided governments and industry. While 13 member states including the U.K. and Germany called earlier this month for a swift decision to adopt an ambitious strategy, a group of nations led by Poland urged further analysis of the proposed policies on the bloc’s economy. The EU’s current target is to reduce pollution by 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.

Potential Setback

A postponement of a decision on 2030 rules may be a setback for global efforts to cut emissions and for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who is convening world leaders on Sept. 23 to set out ways to curb fossil fuel emissions. The EU has for decades been at the forefront of that process, and hesitation on its part may remove a spur for the U.S. and China to act.

“There isn’t any reason to delay the decision,” Wendel Trio, EU director at Climate Action Network environmental lobby, said by e-mail. “It would send the wrong signal to the international community, which is waiting for the EU to retake a leadership role as a first step towards an international climate agreement in Paris next year.”

EU leaders will agree that the new greenhouse-gas reduction target for the region should be more ambitious than the impact in 2030 of current policies, according to the draft statement. Should the bloc continue the pace of reductions under existing laws it would cut emissions by around 32 percent by 2030, the commission has said.

Ukraine Conflict

The framework for the next decade should improve coherence between EU policies on emissions trading, energy efficiency and renewables, the draft summit conclusions show. It should also reflect national circumstances, energy mix and capacities and ensure security of energy supply at competitive prices, according to the document.

The remit of increasing the security of supply and moving toward energy independence is attracting increased attention in the debate on 2030 policies amid the escalating conflict in Ukraine, a transit country for Russian gas supplies to Europe. Russia, which provided about 30 percent of Europe’s gas last year, may increase its exports to 198 billion cubic meters by 2035, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview in Moscow today.

Gazprom Monopoly

EU leaders will say they are “concerned” about high energy dependency rates, according to the draft statement. They will call on member states, especially those most dependent on imports, to intensify efforts to boost energy efficiency, diversify supply sources and continue to develop renewable and “other indigenous energy sources.”

Poland, which relies on Russian natural-gas monopoly Gazprom for about two-thirds of its consumption, will stress at the summit that energy in Europe can’t be more expensive than anywhere else in the world, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said today. That requires a review of current climate policies and implementation of existing EU energy market liberalization rules, he told reporters in Warsaw.

“We need a package that will not pose a threat of Gazprom monopoly in European pipelines,” he said. “I hope that the close Polish-German cooperation that we’ve seen during the Ukrainian crisis will remain equally successful.”

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