Günther Oettinger said new targets were needed for 2030, to enable businesses to plan ahead
New renewable energy targets to go beyond 2020 must be negotiated within the next two years, the Europe’s energy chief said on Thursday.
Günther Oettinger, the EU energy commissioner, said new targets were needed for 2030 to enable businesses to plan ahead, as the current targets to produce 20% of Europe’s energy from renewable sources run out in 2020. Oettinger was introducing a new EU energy roadmap to 2050, which showed that opting for a very high renewables component to the energy mix would be no more expensive than opting for alternative scenarios that placed more emphasis on nuclear power or coal and gas with carbon capture and storage.
He said that he expected binding renewable energy targets for 2030 to be in place by 2014: “With our roadmap we want to ensure that, for all participants, there should be an interesting discussion on binding targets for renewables by 2030. This should begin now and lead to a decision in two years’ time.”
It is the first time Oettinger has set out a clear timetrable for new targets. It follows an agreement reached at UN climate talks in Durban on Sundayby which all developed and developing countries agreed to negotiate an international agreement on emissions reductions “with legal force” that would be written and signed by the end of 2015 and would come into force from 2020.
By ensuring that Europe has its own post-2020 emissions and renewable targets decided in 2014, the EU will be in a better place to negotiate as a bloc and to meet the timetable set out in Durban. But the wrangling among member states over what the targets should be is likely to be fierce.
The UK is ahead of the rest in having set a “fourth carbon budget” for emissions reductions in the 2020s, under which plan emissions would be roughly halved by 2025 compared with 1990 levels. Even that has become less certain, however, as the chancellor, George Osborne, wants a review of the targets in 2014.
There is no agreement among other member states on what future targets should be, and several, such as Poland and other east European countries, want weaker targets while some Scandinavian countries want to be tough. Negotiating on targets was hard enough three years agowhen the EU’s 2020 targets were set. Reopening the discussions in the midst of the worst financial crisis and recession since the war, and with the eurozone looking precarious, will be triply difficult.
Oettinger has also supported weaker targets for 2020 than the climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard.
Launching the 2050 energy roadmap, Oettinger said: “Only a new energy model will make our system secure, competitive and sustainable in the long-run. We now have a European framework for the necessary policy measures to be taken in order to secure the right investments.”
The roadmap puts the share of renewables in total energy use by 2050 at between 55% (in the lowest scenario) and 75% (in the highest scenario) – up to 97% in the share of electricity consumption.
Christian Kjaer, chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in Brussels said: “The commission’s communication could have been clearer in its commitment to binding renewable energy targets for 2030. However, with his strong statement today, Oettinger has provided European industry and citizens with that clarity. The European parliament and council must now give the commission a clear mandate to come forward with ambitious binding 2030 targets for renewable energy.”
Greenpeace’s EU energy policy director, Frauke Thies, said: “The roadmap shows that getting clean energy from renewables will cost taxpayers no more than getting dirty and dangerous energy from coal or nuclear power. The commission will be tempted to overplay the role of coal and nuclear energy to appease the likes of Poland and France, but the numbers in the roadmap are unequivocal. It proves that a modern energy system can’t do without renewables and efficiency, but can easily consign coal and nuclear power to the past.