Berlin wants more from 2030 plan

The first reaction from a member of Germany's cabinet to today’s European Commission 2030 climate and energy plan suggests Europe’s biggest economic power believes there is more arguing to be done.

German environment minister Barbara Hendricks diplomatically called the EC’s package a constructive proposal that serves as a “good basis” for a decision by the European Council in March, when EU heads of state would have to approve the plan.

But she made clear that Berlin wants more than the 40% emissions cut goal and 27% EU-wide renewable energy target – not binding at a national level – that is currently on the table.

“We’ve said in Germany that there has to be an EU-internal greenhouse gas reduction target of at least 40%. On top, we need ambitious and binding targets for renewable energies and energy efficiency,” said Hendricks, repeating what has been the demand of the new coalition government for weeks.

Germany’s renewable energy federation BEE, which has 30,000 members in 5,000 companies, claimed the EU is giving up its role as pace-setter in global climate policy.

“A binding target of a mere 27% for the share of RE in the gross energy consumption in 2030 is practically ineffective,” BEE managing director Hermann Falk says.

Even without any policy change, the EU would reach a share of 24.4%, the BEE claims.

Brussels not only fails on climate protection, but also wastes an enormous economic potential, Falk adds. A binding 30% renewables target would result in 570,000 additional jobs across Europe, and save fossil imports worth €260bn between 2011 and 2030, the BEE says.

But the response from the energy department in the UK – the highest-profile advocate of scrapping national-level binding renewables targets – was at odds with the reaction from Berlin.

London argued for an aggressive emissions target but wants to be free to use non-renewable low-carbon technologies – namely nuclear – to play its part in meeting it.

UK energy secretary Ed Davey said: “It’s good news that the Commission has listened to the UK argument that countries must be allowed to decarbonise in the cheapest way possible.

“However, the UK remains concerned about any renewables  target especially as the debate within Parliament and the British green movement has moved on to  technology neutral  options like a decarbonisation target as the most cost effective and practical way of fighting climate change.”