Last night, the European Council met with all the heads of State and country leaders. The topic was climate and energy and the goal was to enable the European Union – over half a billion people accounting for as 23 percent of global GDP and 11 percent of global emissions – to reach as ambitious a goal as possible for 2030.
These negotiations took place ahead of the future UNFCCC talks that will take place in December 2015 in Paris.
The outcome could have been better but could have been worse as leaders agreed to a minimum level of 40 percent of emissions reductions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. However, the energy efficiency and renewables targets were watered down, from 30 percent which were asked by the European Commission to 27 percent.
This is a major disappointment as some nations like Germany or Denmark have much more higher national targets for overall emissions reductions and that many other countries are investing – or have been investing – heavily in renewables. Those who read my articles will remember my recent posts on Portugal, Spain or Ireland to name but a few.
But on the other side of the fence of climate change mitigation, we have Poland, which continues to be heavily reliant on coal. The leaders of this great country seem hell-bent on keeping their coal industry, oblivious to the fact that their country could halve coal consumption by 2030 as I reported in an article.
The second reason for disappointment – some business leaders had called for more ambitious goals. Indeed, European Industry could benefit from more renewables and energy efficiency as it could lower their energy bills, and thus increase their competitivity. Additionally, many companies are manufacturing and selling these solutions, and thus are depending on larger, tougher goals.
Last but not least, these watered down objectives are being set while the EU continues to purchase from Russia over half a billion euros of oil and natural gas each day. The amounts total over 200 billion euros ( $277 billion ) a year as I noted on my blog earlier this year. Given how efficiency and renewables could lower these bills, one is truly wondering why our leaders kept such targets… Even more, when one know that 30 percent emissions reductions could be reached as early as 2030.
Time will tell if the European Union will once again lead the fight against climate change.