Barroso 'opposes 2030 RE goals'

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has caused widespread dismay by apparently pushing for a single 40% greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030, with no binding targets for renewables or energy efficiency.

Brussels campaigners claim that Barroso has met with climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard  and energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger twice in the last month to discuss the 2030 climate and energy goals.

Barroso is apparently inclined to adopt a position nearer to that of the UK, which wants emissions but not renewable targets – opening the way for nuclear power to play a role in decarbonisation.

Barroso’s position in trying to ignore fixing a renewables target for 2030 is likely to be strongly opposed by both Hedegaard and Oettinger, as well as many EU governments and large sections of the European renewables business.

Oettinger recently admitted that the bloc was in “wide agreement” on the 40% climate target, but divided on the merits of a renewables target and not even talking about an energy efficiency goal.

Europe’s renewables leaders have mounted a campaign backing ambitious 2030 targets that they hope will be in the EU’s White Paper to be released on 22 January with a view to adoption by heads of state next March.

As commission president, Barroso has the final say on the body’s position. But the matter is likely to be the subject of haggling right up to the January deadline – and the final version could ultimately be rejected by the European leaders.

Hedegaard tells Recharge that “we should grab the opportunities offered by  reaching a global climate change agreement in Paris in 2015, and not lose our European leadership on climate and renewables”.

“We must, however, be careful that when we construct the 2030 package, it does not necessarily have to be a ‘copy-paste’ of what we did up to 2020, but there must be a strong component of both renewables and energy efficiency in European climate policies,” she insists.

Sarah Azau, head of political affairs at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), said: “The coming weeks will be crucial in defining the shape of the post-2020 EU energy and climate legislation, and whether this might include a triple-target approach (for renewable energy, emissions reduction and energy efficiency), which would stabilise investor confidence in the wind energy sector so it can create more jobs and growth.

"Both energy commissioner Oettinger and climate commissioner Hedegaard have spoken publicly about the need for such a renewable energy target," Azau adds.

"In terms of member states, Germany, if the coalition agreement is adopted, will put its weight behind a renewables target along with others such as Portugal, Belgium, Ireland and Austria.

"It is essential that the European Commission in January proposes three 2030 targets for renewables, emissions reductions and energy efficiency: measures that will boost the economy, green growth and jobs, and energy security in Europe, and that member states then get behind this proposal.”

Friends of the Earth Europe says “the EU’s credibility is at stake, and president Barroso’s too.  He rightly wants to leave a legacy as a bold climate and energy legislator.  He will not leave such a legacy if he oversees the EU breaching its own commitment to 2 degrees centigrade global temperature rise.

“Nor if he artificially caps investment and job creation in the renewables and energy efficiency sectors.  Barroso and his Commission must choose how they want to be remembered.”