Climate Action

European Commission energy and climate announcements get mixed reviews

The ‘Roadmap for transforming the European Union into a competitive low carbon economy by 2050’ launched by the European Commission (8 March) has proposed emissions cuts of 25 per cent to help with the 80-95 per cent cuts proposed for 2050, a welcomed announcement. However the Energy Efficiency Plan, a crucial step towards meeting these targets has attracted concerns from business.

  • 10 March 2011
  • Websolutions

New proposals for 25 per cent cuts in emissions by 2020 in the European Commission’s ‘Roadmap for transforming the European Union into a competitive low carbon economy by 2050’ (8 March) have been welcomed as the first step towards stricter European targets.

The European Commission’s Roadmap sets out the cost-effective pathway to reach the EU’s objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate said: ‘‘We need to start the transition towards a competitive low carbon economy now. The longer we wait, the higher the cost will be.”

The analysis in the report shows that the most cost effective way of achieving the 2050 target, requires a 25 per cent emissions cut by 2020, 5 per cent higher than current European targets.

However, Chris Huhne, UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary said: “The roadmap shows that Europe’s current 20% target for 2020 isn’t enough and shows that Europe’s already got the policies and the tools to cut emissions by 25% at home. This makes the case for going to 30% stronger and more urgent.”

The Roadmap recommends the increased target should be achieved through largely domestic measures because by 2050 they predict that international credits for offsetting emissions will be less available.

It also says that building a low carbon economy will require additional annual investment of 1.5 per cent of EU GDP over the next 40 years.

However, the joint announcement of the ‘Roadmap’ and the European Energy Efficiency Plan has also called some to push for more action to back the proposals.

The European Climate Foundation, who released their own ‘Roadmap 2050’ last year to show decarbonisation of the power sector is needed for a low carbon economy said: “We welcome the leadership the European Commission is demonstrating in presenting both climate and energy roadmaps to 2050, but the EU institutions now have the challenge of following through on these important long-term visions.”

The Efficiency Plan is a set of proposed measures aimed at creating benefits for households and businesses through lowered emissions.

Current targets stand at a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency, and would go some way to meeting the reduction targets set out by the Roadmap. However, recent Commission estimates suggest that the EU will achieve less than half of this.

While business has welcomed the Roadmap, many are concerned that the Energy Efficiency Plan will not go far enough in implementing measures to achieve the 20 per cent improvement.

Companies under the Prince of Wales’s EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, which includes Telekom, Nestlé, Phillips, Shell and Tesco, have voiced concerns in a letter to José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for Energy and Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate.

They believe efforts need to be scaled up and seek reassurance that the Energy Efficiency Plan will promote stronger action at the EU and national level in establishing clear rules.

The Commission will monitor the implementation of the plan and report on progress in 2013. If the EU target does not look achievable, the Commission could propose legally binding targets.

The Roadmap is addressed to the Council, European Parliament and EU Bodies. The commission wants it to be taken into account when further policy is developed.


Image: Emilia Garcia | flickr