EU's 2030 carbon goals must be set by 2015 - Hedegaard
The EU must set 2030 climate targets by 2015, climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in Brussels on Tuesday, only one day after the European parliament declined to strengthen the bloc's flagship climate policy tool.
Hedegaard was speaking at a stakeholder meeting on international negotiations in 2015. Countries agreed to reach a global 2020-2030 climate deal by 2015 at the UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, in 2011. The meeting kicked off a consultation on the negotiations that closes on 26 June.
The European Commission published its green paper consultation on energy and climate policy until 2030 last month (see EDCM 28 March 2012).
The paper sets numerous 2030 climate targets, which sparked criticism from stakeholders who think a multitude of policies to tackle climate change could weaken the EU's carbon emissions trading system (ETS).
The commission is due to assess whether a single 2030 climate target is preferable to the three existing 2020 targets - namely, cutting 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, meeting 20% of energy production from renewable sources and producing a 20% increase in energy efficiency.
The road to 2015
Hedegaard admitted that some Europeans have advocated waiting until the outcome of the 2015 negotiation before deciding on the road to 2030.
"This would be an extremely unwise strategy, for a lot of economic reasons but also negotiation wise," she said, adding that the bloc could not show up to the international negotiation table "empty handed".
The purpose of the 2030 green paper should be to set out longer-term goals, but also to help the EU prepare its position ahead of the 2015 negotiations, the commissioner said. "It would be mistaken [to] wait for the 2015 outcome, because the result would be we would not have an outcome," she said.
But forging common climate goals across the EU in the next two-and-a-half years could prove challenging. On Tuesday, the European parliament rejected the commission's back-loading proposal, sending carbon prices crashing and highlighting political divisions over the bloc's climate policy (see EDCM 16 April 2013).
At the time, European parliament member Eija-Riitta Korhola, who led the opposition to back-loading, said any change to the ETS should only happen when the EU's 2030 climate goals are set, instead of intervening in the market beforehand.
But lawmakers and analysts have warned that the back-loading proposal's failure in parliament will prompt national governments to take over climate and energy policy.
The no vote showed a lack of support among current EU lawmakers for the bloc's flagship climate change tool, the ETS, which was designed and became law before many of them were elected.
Pushing ahead with forging 2030 goals by 2015 could also prove challenging because elections for the European parliament in 2014 could see a change of opinion as well as of the representatives considering EU climate policy revision. Marie-Louise du Bois
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