‘Dispiriting’ EU climate change plans criticised

22 January 2014
By Edd Gent
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Renewable industry representatives have criticised the lack of ambition in the European Commission's emissions white paper

Renewable industry representatives have criticised the lack of ambition in the European Commission's emissions white paper

The European Commission's plans for tackling climate change up to 2030 have been branded as “dispiriting” and “lacking ambition”.

Earlier today the Commission released a white paper that proposed a 40 per cent cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2030 and a 27 per cent EU-wide target for energy from renewables, but left out individual country targets for renewables as well as other hoped-for tough measures.

Jason Anderson, of WWF, accused the Commission of putting economic modernisation of the EU at risk and of repackaging a slowdown in the current pace of emissions cuts.

"The picture painted by the full set of policy proposals is dispiriting: an energy efficiency target has been deferred; cancelling the massive oversupply of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme is also deferred; closing the gaps in EU shale gas legislation is deferred," he said.

"I'm sure the fossil fuel lobbyists will sleep well tonight. It is now up to member state governments to show the political leadership needed to inspire Europe towards an industrial and economic revolution that will provide for both people and the planet."

The UK was also singled out for lobbying against a binding renewables target for individual countries, new regulations on shale gas and targets to cut emissions from transport fuels.

Solar industry body the Solar Trade Association's head of external affairs Leonie Greene said: "It's shocking that the UK government, one of the poorest performers on renewables in Europe, sought to squash such a valuable target. Let's be clear, a target is not the same as public support.

"Solar is likely to need no public support in the next decade, but a target will provide the whole renewables industry with the confidence to invest for strong expansion going forwards.

"Now under this pan-EU target approach, we are likely to see a scenario where countries like Germany that take a long-term perspective continue to strongly back their renewables industry into the next decade, while we fall even further behind."

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of wind, wave and tidal power trade association RenewableUK, said: “The lack of ambition in not ensuring there are national binding targets for renewable energy is a disappointment.

“This is a missed opportunity for member states to take collective and serious action on the drive for clean, sustainable, renewable energy, which is the best option for reducing our carbon emissions.”

But the shale gas industry welcomed the decision not to produce new legislation on fracking, instead publishing guidelines on shale gas in member states.

Marcus Pepperell, spokesperson for Shale Gas Europe said: "The European Commission has sought to strike a balance between Europe's objectives of an environmentally sustainable, affordable and secure energy mix. However we will need to see how these guidelines are subsequently applied."

And investors gave the proposals a cautious welcome.

Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which represents over 85 of Europe's largest investors worth £6tn said: "Today's proposals are an important first step to restoring investor confidence in the EU's vision for a low-carbon energy future.

"A 40 per cent emissions reduction target is the minimum necessary to keep Europe on course for a low-carbon economy as outlined in the EU's 2050 Roadmap. Achieving this target is well within member state capabilities and crucial for long-term policy certainty."

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