EU energy chief pushes for tougher emissions targets

Cañete calls on bloc to ‘press the throttle’ on climate change policies

The EU’s energy chief is pushing for member states to adopt a more aggressive carbon reduction target ahead of UN climate talks later this year. The EU already has some of the most ambitious carbon emission reduction targets in the world but Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU energy commissioner, wants the bloc to go further.

“We have to press the throttle,” Mr Cañete said. After the US’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement the EU has continued to act as one of the leading advocates for reducing emissions targets. Under the new target, proposed by Mr Cañete, the EU would increase its carbon reduction target to 45 per cent by 2030, up from the current target of 40 per cent, relative to 1990 levels.

Raising the EU’s official target requires the approval of member states through the council of ministers. His letter to the council of ministers will include modelling that shows the EU will “de facto” reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 because of the other energy targets that have been recently adopted.

Recommended The FT View Unprecedented heat cannot be ignored With new legislation, at least half of the EU’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2030, Mr Cañete said. To reach the new energy and climate change targets will require a mixture of public and private investment of €379bn a year between 2021 and 2030, as well a 50 per cent increase in the amount of new renewables installed each year, Mr Cañete said. Reaching the new renewable target is “clearly a challenge,” he added.

Mr Cañete said UN climate talks, which are due take place in December in Katowice, Poland, would be “difficult”. Countries that signed up to the 2015 Paris climate deal will try to agree on a common “rule book” that will govern the pact. However, the preparatory talks for the conference, known as COP 24, have made little progress due to disagreement over whether there should be a single set of rules, or different rules for developed and for developing countries. “It’s a very important COP, and a difficult one,” said Mr Cañete.

The Paris agreement suffered a heavy blow after Donald Trump said last year that the US would pull out of the agreement. The US president denounced the agreement for imposing “draconian financial and economic burdens” on his country.

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If EU ministers formally adopt the new emissions target ahead of the UN climate talks, it would become the first big economy to raise its climate targets under the UN framework this year. However some argue the EU should be much more ambitious, given the substantial fall in the costs for wind and solar energy and the need to keep temperature rises below 1.5 degrees.

Energy ministers from 14 member states — including France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — wrote to the commission in June requesting it raise its ambitions, some for as much as a 55 per cent reduction by 2030.

Climate Action Network Europe estimated that the increase to 45 per cent will “fall well short of what is needed to implement the Paris Agreement”. Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe said, “We are happy to see that there is growing momentum among member states for scaling up EU climate action from incremental to transformational . . . The increase needs to go far beyond what is currently on the table, and definitely exceed the recently raised energy targets.”



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