The paper launches a public consultation on the content of the 2030 framework as well as a Consultative Communication on the future of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Europe.

In addition, the Commission adopted a report assessing the EU and Member States’ progress towards their 2020 renewable energy targets and on the sustainability of biofuels and bioliquids consumed in the EU.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, said: “Europe’s dependence on foreign fossil fuels is growing every year. That means more expensive and unaffordable energy bills for Europeans. This is not very wise.

“It’s obviously not wise for the climate, but it’s also not wise for our economy and our competiveness. That is why we have decided that in Europe we want a low-carbon society for 2050. We have targets for 2020, but for most investors 2020 is around the corner.

“It’s time to define the targets for 2030. The sooner we do that, the more certainty we get to our companies and our investors. And the more ambitious these targets are the better for the climate.”

On the basis of the views expressed through the consultation, which runs until July 2, by Member States, EU institutions and stakeholders, the Commission intends to table the EU’s 2030 framework for climate and energy policies by the end of this year.

The Consultative Communication on CCS identifies the barriers that have prevented it from developing at the pace previously expected and discusses options to further promote the timely demonstration and early deployment, responses to which will feed into the Commission’s work on the 2030 policy framework.

The renewable energy (RES) progress report shows that the current policy framework of legally binding renewable energy targets has resulted in strong growth of the renewable energy sector but to meet the targets in 2020, more efforts will be needed.

Responding to the launch of the Green Paper, CBI Director for Business Environment policy, Rhian Kelly, said: “It’s critical to get political agreement on a 2030 EU emissions target by the end of next year, to encourage the levels of investment that we need in low-carbon technology.

“Any target must be part of a coherent policy framework that also seeks to minimise carbon leakage, so that all businesses can play their part.”

However, some green groups were not as welcoming of the latest strategy, suggesting that despite its focus on achieving a low carbon economy the paper would not help replace fossil fuels.

Friends of the Earth Europe’s climate and energy campaigner Brook Riley, said: “This half-hearted plan for 2030 climate and energy policy will in effect maintain Europe’s dependence on imports of polluting fossil fuels which drain the economy to the tune of €400 billion per year and stop us from making the transition to the clean energy system we urgently need.”

Leigh Stringer

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