Climate change

New clean energy targets for Europe

Print edition : February 21, 2014

Jose Manuel Barroso. Photo: Yves Herman/REUTERS

THE European Commission’s (E.C.) policy framework for energy and climate in 2030 covers the decade after the current 2020 policy set, which stipulated a 20 per cent reduction of emissions, 20 per cent renewables in the energy mix and a 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency by that date. All of these targets remain binding on all member states in what E.C. President Jose Manuel Barroso called a “top-down” approach.

By contrast, the framework announced for the period from 2020 to 2030 takes a “bottom-up” approach where each member state will construct a “holistic” plan for a “competitive, secure and sustainable energy” mix. Across the European Union as a whole, these national plans must add up to show greenhouse gas emissions reaching 40 per cent below 1990 levels, and a market share for renewables of at least 27 per cent of energy. Each country’s contribution to the targets remains to be negotiated among the group of 28 states. National plans covering the details would then be developed in an “iterative process” that the E.C. said would “ensure the national plans are sufficiently ambitious, as well as their consistency and compliance over time”. According to senior E.C. officials, emissions cuts pledged by each country would be enacted in legislation and would become binding.

It is anticipated that renewables will provide about 45 per cent of electricity in 2030, including about 12 per cent from hydro. Nuclear power is expected to stay at around 27 per cent, leaving 26 per cent for fossil fuels. Balancing the needs of the 28 member states has been difficult, with a range of policies and desires represented in various countries for renewables, shale gas, nuclear power and coal.

In this context Poland’s recent new policy for the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plants, while continuing to rely on its supplies of cheap domestic coal, is to be noted.

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