From the TUC

EU 2030: gas seems happy

22 Jan 2014, by in Environment

The UK was right to push the Commission for a 50% carbon emissions cut by 2030. While welcome, the EU’s new 2030 target of 40% by 2030 is simply not enough. But if the government are serious about building a green economy they need to invest in new jobs and technology at home, rather than cutting vital green initiatives like the flagging Green Deal  and supporting investment in fracking over renewables. We’re disappointed but not surprised that the UK has opposed a higher renewable energy goal – the government refused to set a binding renewables target in its new Energy Act. Worryingly, Europe’s shale gas industry seems happy with the EU’s strategy.

Shale Europe

The six key elements of the EU’s 2030 plan are:

  • A 40% emissions reduction target – binding on all Member States, met through domestic measures alone.
  • A tighter cap on emissions from power and heavy industry. This affects about 1,000 power stations and heavy industry plant in the UK. Industry exemptions will be essential to avoid continued carbon leakage. Under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the annual “tightening” of the cap is increased from 1.74% now to 2.2% after 2020. Emissions from sectors outside the scheme need to be cut by 30% below the 2005 level.
  • EU’s pledge to the UN: a 40% reduction in early 2015 as part of the international negotiations on a new global climate agreement in Paris at the end of 2015. A 50% goal would be more convincing.
  • 27% of energy from renewables. This is an “EU-wide, binding renewable energy target.” But it would not be translated into national targets through EU legislation, leaving flexibility for Member States to transform the energy system in a way that is “adapted to national preferences.”
  • Improved energy efficiency: it “will contribute to all objectives of EU energy policy. … no transition towards a competitive, secure and sustainable  energy system is possible without it.” But no new target.
  • Reform EU Emissions Trading Scheme: this includes setting aside auction allowances to help sustain a meaningful market price for carbon.

The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, whose members manage 7.5 trillion euros, said: “A 40% emissions reduction target is the minimum necessary to keep Europe on course for a low-carbon economy as outlined in the EU’s 2050 Roadmap.” Achieving this target is well within member state capabilities and crucial for long-term policy certainty.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner Tony Bosworth criticised the failure of the EU to bring in regulations on fracking:

“The EU’s failure to introduce binding regulations for fracking shows a real disregard for the environmental risks faced by communities across Europe. The UK Government must take much of the blame for this – it proclaims the benefit of regulation at home.”

Marcus Pepperell for Shale Gas Europe  said: “The European Commission has sought to strike a balance between Europe’s objectives of an environmentally sustainable, affordable and secure energy mix. The industry welcomed the decision not to produce new regulations, but instead publishing “guidelines” on shale gas in member states.