Europe's Carbon Cuts May Be Deeper on Energy Savings, Renewables

  • Emission reductions could exceed 40% by 2030, EU’s Canete says
  • Canete hopes for ‘ambitious’ deal on draft post-2020 rules

The European Union will consider a stricter 2030 emission-reduction target in its long-term climate strategy should national governments support more ambitious future rules for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Tougher targets for renewables and energy savings in the next decade, promoted by the European Parliament in ongoing negotiations with EU member states, would translate into a deeper carbon cut by the 28-nation bloc than the currently forecast “at least 40 percent” from 1990 levels, according to European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.

The two goals are subject to negotiations known as trilogue that involve member states, the EU Parliament and the commission. The next round of talks on the so-called Clean Energy Package is scheduled for the last week of May.

“We’re also working at the moment on a long-term decarbonization strategy that we will deliver in November and we will have to factor in the results of this trilogue,” Canete told reporters in Brussels on Thursday. “I’m pretty sure that the initial baseline of this strategy will be much more ambitious than the initial proposal that the commission put on the table.”

10 EU Countries with Biggest Share of Renewables

Source: Eurostat data for 2016

The EU wants to remain the leader in the global fight against climate change. Earlier this year, the European Parliament recommended toughening the commission’s proposal to boost energy efficiency by 30 percent and increase the share of renewables in energy consumption to at least 27 percent by 2030. The assembly is pushing for stricter, binding goals of 35 percent.

“The commission will be an honest broker and I’m sure we will have compromises for ambitious targets, much more ambitious than the ones the commission proposed initially, which will allow us to have bigger reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions than at least 40 percent,” Canete said.

An analysis by the commission earlier this year showed that a drop in wind and solar energy costs means the EU can aim to increase its renewables target to 30 percent by the end of the next decade without boosting expenditures needed to meet it.

An increase in the renewables target by 3 percentage points to 30 percent would translate into reduction of total European pollution of 43 percent. It would also mean a faster reduction of carbon discharges in the EU Emissions Trading System, according to the commission’s estimate.

The EU cap-and-trade program for emissions is the cornerstone of the region’s plan to cut greenhouse gases that scientists blame for global warming. It imposes annually decreasing pollution limits on around 12,000 facilities owned by power producers, airlines and industries from steel to cement makers. A more ambitious renewables goal would mean a slower pace of carbon-price growth in the ETS, the commission’s analysis showed.

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