EU leaders Thursday night (23 October) committed by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%, and increase energy efficiency and renewables by at least 27% [provided there is a legally binding UN climate treaty]
French President François Hollande said the deal would send a clear message to other countries such as China and the US ahead of the talks in Paris next year to agree global legally binding greenhouse gas emissions.
A special “flexibility clause” was added to the final text, making it possible for the Council to return to the targets after the UN summit. But Hollande told reporters that the clause was not dependent on the Paris talks as the Council can revisit the targets anytime.
Hollande, who will host the negotiations, said it was a “conclusive and definitive” agreement. It was essential a deal was reached before the international climate talks, he said.
But the efficiency and renewables targets were watered down. The European Commission had called for an efficiency goal of 30%. That was reduced to 27% across the EU. The EU level target is not legally binding at national level or EU level. The efficiency target will be reviewed in 2020 “having in mind” a 30% EU-level target, according to the summit conclusions.
The renewables target of at least 27% is binding at EU-wide level but, after opposition from countries such as the United Kingdom, it will not be binding at national level.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also noted that the climate agreement has made EU capable of keep being an important player on the international stage. She said that the binding target of at least 27% renewables was particularly important to Germany and that those member states, that want to do more, are able to do so under this agreement.
“Germany will not have a hard time (living up to the targets). We have already set tougher national targets,” she said.
Merkel stressed that while the 40% emissions reduction target is going to be broken down to individual member states based on their GDP per capita, those countries that will have lower targets would have to do more in other areas.
Free allowances of carbon emissions to poorer countries will continue after 2020 to offset competition from countries not subject to EU climate laws.
The deal was condemned by groups such as Greenpeace and Oxfam as too weak. “It is shocking that business leaders called for more ambitious targets than those agreed by EU leaders,” Oxfam said.
Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said the deal would not cost her country. Poland was the country that mostly opposed ambitious climate goals, fearing for its coal power plants.
“I said that we will not return from this summit with new [financial] burdens, and indeed there are no new burdens,” Kopacz told Polish reporters.
Conclusions on 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework
1. Substantial progress has been made towards the attainment of the EU targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction, renewable energy and energy efficiency, which need to be fully met by 2020. On the basis of the principles identified in the March 2014 European Council conclusions, the European Council agreed today on the 2030 climate and energy policy framework for the European Union. Accordingly, the EU will submit its contribution, at the latest by the first quarter of 2015, in line with the timeline agreed by the UNFCCC in Warsaw for the conclusion of a global climate agreement. The European Council calls on all countries to come forward with ambitious targets and policies well in advance of the Conference of the Parties 21 in Paris. It will revert to this issue after the Paris Conference. The European Council will keep all the elements of the framework under review and will continue to give strategic orientations as appropriate, notably with respect to consensus on ETS, non-ETS, interconnections and energy efficiency. The Commission will continue to have a regular dialogue with stakeholders.