EU Deeply Divided Over Climate & Energy Strategy

  • Date: 03/03/14
  • EurActiv

The EU’s energy and environment ministers will today (3 March) begin two days of talks under the shadow of divisions on greenhouse gas cuts, renewable energy targets and efficiency objectives.

While Germany says it will push for a binding energy savings goal and stronger renewable targets, Poland wants a commitment to an emissions cut made optional and final decisions postponed until next year.

The Council discussions on energy plans for 2030 had been intended to pave the way to an agreement at an EU leaders’ summit on 20-21 March.

Draft guidelines for that meeting seen by EurActiv, call for a roadmap leading to “an early agreement on an ambitious EU position on emissions reductions up to 2030.”

This was framed in the context of a UN climate summit in September 2014, and the global climate change conference of parties (COP) due to take place in Paris in December 2015.

But Poland is blocking a consensus on a planned 40% cut in CO2 emissions, and says that a May 2013 agreement impels a final decision on objectives to be postponed until 2015.

Diplomatic sources have even floated a notion that the EU’s planned 40% cut in CO2 emissions could be made binding at the EU level alone, leaving member states free to pursue divergent energy policies. This is unlikely to gather a groundswell of support.

The UK, for example, supports an offer of a 50% reduction in Europe’s CO2 emissions being made at the Paris COP, albeit with the extra 10% cut being met with carbon offsets.

London also wants a decision on energy goals taken as quickly as possible, ideally before a June summit of EU leaders, and would prefer to see the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive which regulates transport energies ranging from biofuels to tar sands, amended rather than scrapped.

But it will be less sympathetic to proposals from Germany, which wants a planned 27% goal for renewable energies in the EU’s energy mix toted up to an “optimal” 30%, and made binding on member states.

More dramatically, Berlin will push for a binding energy efficiency target, in a challenge to the established orthodoxy in Brussels that such measures should wait until after a review of lagging progress towards the non-binding goal set for 2020.

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