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Policy Review

Europe's Energy and Climate Change Goals: EC announces policy framework for 2030 [free access]

March 7, 2014

Recently in January 2014, the European Commission (EC) announced the new climate and energy targets for 2030, which will further the progress towards establishing a low-carbon economy and a competitive and secure energy system that ensures affordable energy for consumers, increases the security of energy supplies, reduces dependence on energy imports and creates new opportunities for growth and jobs. This announcement follows the Commission’s March 2013 Green Paper, which launched a broad public consultation on the most appropriate range and structure of climate and energy targets for 2030. Specifically, the 2030 goals include a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 per cent below the 1990 level, a European Union (EU)-wide binding target for share of renewable energy consumed to be at least 27 per cent, increased focus on energy efficiency policies, a new governance system and a set of new indicators to monitor achievement of targets. The European Council will review this new 2030 framework at its upcoming spring meeting in March 2014.


The EU’s climate and energy objective entails reducing its GHG emissions by 80-95 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. To this end, it has set its 2020 targets to reduce GHG emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels, increase renewable energy to 20 per cent, and achieve energy savings of 20 per cent. The new framework constitutes the next step towards reaching the 2050 goal. More importantly, the impact of the economic and financial crisis needs to be taken into account. The current economic crisis has affected the capacity of the EU’s Member States to invest. Fossil fuel prices remain high, which is negatively affecting EU’s trade balance and energy costs. The EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) is not sufficiently driving investments in low-carbon technologies. At the same time, the energy system also requires significant investment to replace aging infrastructure. For this, investors urgently need a clear policy framework that provides predictability and reduced regulatory risk beyond 2020. This will also stimulate research and development in efficient low-carbon technologies. In addition, the EU needs to decide what GHG reduction target it is going to contribute to the global climate agreement that is to be adopted at the end of 2015.


The key elements of the 2030 policy framework set out by the Commission include the following:






Further, the Commission is of the view that an increased share of renewable energy and a more efficient energy system are not enough to ensure sufficient progress towards the 2030 goals. Systematic monitoring with key indicators is needed to assess the progress over time and to inform any future policy intervention. These indicators include energy price differentials between the EU and major trading partners, diversification of energy imports and the share of indigenous energy sources used in energy consumption, and deployment of smart grids and interconnections between Member States.




Endorsement of the Commission's 2030 framework by the European Council and the European Parliament is the next step. The Commission has also invited the two legislative bodies to confirm that the EU should pledge a 2030 GHG reduction target of 40 per cent in early 2015 as part of the international negotiations on a new global climate agreement. Such action will allow the EU to contribute constructively to the international negotiations and increase predictability for investors by creating greater clarity about the required level and type of efforts needed after 2020. Before 2021, the 2030 GHG reduction target will need to be translated into national GHG targets for the non-ETS sectors and Member States will need to draw up their national plans for the period up to 2030.


Overall, the new framework builds on the existing ‘climate and energy package’ targets for 2020 as well as on the Commission’s 2050 roadmaps for energy and for a competitive low-carbon economy. The aim remains to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, make the EU more energy efficient/less carbon intensive, increase investments, and develop new sectors, technologies and jobs.