EU Energy Commissioner Rallies Opposition To 2030 Climate Targets

  • Date: 29/01/14
  • EurActiv

The EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, has spoken out against a planned 40% cut in CO2 emissions across the EU by 2030, just a week after he helped to launch the policy.

Speaking at an ‘Industry Matters’ conference in Brussels, Oettinger said those who expected the cut to “save the world” were “arrogant or stupid”, and publicly questioned whether the reduction was even achievable.

“It’s an ambitious compromise and I am a little bit sceptical,” he told delegates at the conference, organised by the pan-European employers’ confederation BusinessEurope.

“I have to be constructive as I’m a member of the team but I’m sceptical.”

The energy commissioner, who argued for a lesser 35% goal behind the scenes, said the EU was only on track to cut emissions 20% by the decades’s end because of economic crisis and the closure of soviet-era plants in Eastern Europe.

“These were low-hanging fruits but there are no more now, so every percentage going down gets more difficult and cost-intensive,” he said. The EU was just responsible for 10.6% of global emissions today, a sum that would fall to 4.5% by 2030, he noted.

“To think that with this 4.5% of global emissions you can save the world is not realistic,” Oettinger said. “It is arrogant or stupid. We need a global commitment.”

The EU’s 2030 package will now be discussed at a European summit of EU heads of state in March, before a new proposal is revealed in September, the same month that an international climate summit meets in Lima, Peru.

A final package should then be agreed before July 2015, ahead of a climate summit in Paris that is supposed to forge a binding global agreement.

As well as addressing climate issues, Oettinger, a Christian Democrat from Germany, said that in the long-term Europe might import gas from Iraq, Nigeria, Libya and Qatar.

Shale gas ‘pioneers’

He hailed the UK and Poland as cheap energy “pioneers” for their efforts to exploit shale gas and said that perhaps the US could export some of its shale here.

“Europe is on the way to deindustrialise and the US has a different strategy,” he said.

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