In a meeting held today, EU Commissioners established the EU 2030 energy and climate framework White Paper, announcing targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and renewables generation but left out an energy efficiency target.

The Commission set a target to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, which will be widely welcomed by environmentalists as it has been revised upward from its existing 2020 target of 20%.

However, environmental groups and the renewables industry will be disappointed by the 27% renewables target as many have been calling for a more ambitious goal, with some calling for 45%. The exclusion of an EU-wide energy efficiency target will also incite anger amongst environmental groups.

Some member states, such as the UK, France and Spain, have lobbied against proposed renewables targets, calling for them to be lower in order to achieve emissions targets with ‘cheaper methods’. Today’s decision has prompted environmental groups, as well as the renewables and energy efficiency sectors, to accuse the Commission of pandering to large energy providers and energy intensive industries.

Disappointed by the announcement, president of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), Monica Frassoni, said: “This is a depressing day for Europe. President Barroso’s ambition to leave a green legacy from his two mandates has miserably failed. We currently have an energy paradigm where we send billions of euros out of Europe rather than employing people in Europe to save energy.

“Today’s communication was a chance to fix this by creating an energy and climate policy that started with the most cost-effective measures first. Instead the Commission has given in to the intense lobbying efforts of the large energy providers and energy intensive industries and what we have is a disaster – both for Europe’s climate and our competitiveness”.

Friends of the Earth Europe climate and energy campaigner Brook Riley, said: “Climate change is happening but the EU’s commitments to address it are not. It is breaking its commitments to address it. With this proposal senior decision-makers are proposing action which goes against people’s best interests. This totally inadequate proposal is off the radar of what climate science tells us to do in Europe to avoid climate catastrophe.”

However, EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard was positive about the decision, tweeting: “In spite of all those arguing that nothing ambitious would come out of the Commission today, we did it!”.

Leigh Stringer

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