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EU 2030 climate targets spark criticism

28 Mar 2013 18:16:22 | edcm

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An EU proposal to set multiple 2030 climate targets has sparked criticism, as some warn that this could weaken the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The European Commission on Wednesday published a Green Paper consultation on energy and climate policy until 2030 (see EDCM 27 March 2013).

Currently, the EU has three 2020 targets - cutting 20% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; raising renewable energy's consumptive share to 20%; and saving 20% of projected energy consumption.

Energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger favours similar separate targets for 2030.

But the Commission will still assess whether a single 2030 emissions target is preferable to these three 2020 ones, because they could have negative trade-offs. It has cited the example of greater-than-expected renewable energy production, which erodes demand for allowances and thus carbon prices, as discouraging investments in other low-carbon technology and infrastructure.

Overlapping policies

Stakeholders were divided over whether to back a single or plural targets.

The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) favours a single 2030 goal, it said in a statement on Wednesday, as a separate renewable energy target would undercut the EU ETS as the bloc's key emission-reduction policy tool.

"Whilst we recognise that this is the start of a debate - and that such a policy needs to be debated - IETA believes that the overlap of climate and renewable policies in the EU has been one of the main causes of oversupply of EU allowances in the EU ETS to date."

IETA added that the Commission lacked concrete proposals to correct the overlap.

Green lobby WWF sided with those supporting multiple targets, calling for three.

"Those obviously need to be designed in a smart and coherent way, so they don't cannibalise each other," Sam Van Den Plas, EU climate policy officer at WWF said by phone on Thursday.

How big of a CO2 cut?

The potential size of cuts also sparked disagreement. On the one hand, responding to the Green Paper, European steel lobby Eurofer criticised a possible 40% CO2 reduction by 2030 target as too steep.

Its director general Gordon Moffat said that the current 20% reduction by 2020 target was already unattainable for the sector "because of a complete lack of economically viable technologies". He warned that a 40% reduction target would further raise energy costs and burden the industry.

On the other hand, the EU Green Party said the Commission lacked ambition as various scenarios show that the bloc could more-than-halve emissions by 2030.

It favours two targets, it said in a statement, including a renewable energy target that would seek an increase to 45% of the European consumptive share. Silvia Molteni

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