After months of wrangling, European government leaders succeeded in the early hours of Friday morning to agree an EU climate and energy package up until 2030. They opted to curb CO2 emissions by at least 40 per cent, increase the amount of renewable energy in the mix to at least 27 per cent, and set a non-binding target to reduce energy demand by at least 27 per cent. EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard and UN climate chief Christiana Figueres were among those who welcomed the deal as providing “valuable momentum” for the international climate negotiations in Paris in 2015. But most environmentalists agreed the package must “set the floor not the ceiling of European action” and called on the EU to arrive in the French capital “with a more serious offer”. Many slammed the package as a political fudge and said it was falling far short of what science has shown the EU needs to do if global warming is to be kept below the internationally agreed danger-threshold of 2DegC above pre-industrial levels. NGOs also highlighted that the agreed targets are lower than those called for by many of the world’s biggest companies because of “concessions to special interests and eurosceptics”.
- Despite threats from various countries to veto the deal, the EU has managed to agree a 2030 climate and energy package. The final agreement includes a target to cut CO2 emissions in the EU by at least 40 per cent, to increase the amount of renewable energy in the mix to at least 27 per cent, and a non-binding target to reduce energy demand by at least 27 per cent. Ahead of an important March deadline for countries to submit climate action plans to the United Nations, the EU’s move puts pressure on other major emitters to reveal their plans.
- NGOs have slammed the deal as a political fudge that falls well short of what citizens, scientists, businesses, economists and investors are demanding. They say the package must “set the floor not the ceiling of European action,” calling for an improved package that would speed up rather than slow down the ongoing transition from dirty to clean energy. Urging a cut in emissions of at least 55 per cent, groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also want a binding energy savings target of at least 30 per cent, and a 45 per cent target for the share of renewables in the European energy mix.
- Some EU member states were willing to be more ambitious than the final deal. But their aims were thwarted by “concessions to special interests”. The Polish government negotiated free allowances for its coal power sector and significant financial support, while the UK government was accused of pandering to domestic eurosceptic concerns, blocking a stronger efficiency target. But Oxfam believes that “by leaving the possibility to increase the 40 per cent target”, EU leaders acknowledge the deal is “inadequate”, and will hopefully accelerate the clean energy transition at home while working towards a stronger EU package for Paris.