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The European Commission is on the verge of stepping on the brakes with regards Europe’s future climate policy. After a meeting of EU commissioners in Brussels on Friday, it seems almost certain that there will be no new obligations or targets  for the expansion of wind turbines and solar power systems after 2020.

Although nothing has been decided yet, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik are isolated in their push for a new target to promote green energy. Reportedly, German Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger does not support them either.

Thus, it is likely that the demand of the German government for a binding renewables target for 2030 will not be agreed by the Commission. In a letter to the EU Commission, Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) recently appealed to set a new renewables target. However, in his letter, Gabriel did not used the word ‘binding’. Then, shortly before the Commissioners’ meeting, a German diplomat clarified in an e-mail to the Commission that Germany would like to see a binding target after all.

The EU Commission, however, only favours a non-binding target for wind and solar power. Until now, as a target of 30 percent of the total energy mix has being discussed; now 24 or 27 percent are mentioned.

As the EU Commission neither wants to set a new target for energy efficiency, there is currently only one single binding target for CO2 emission on the table: For debate is a new CO2 target of a cut by 35 or 40 percent by 2030. The German government is in favour of at least 40 percent.

A spokeswoman for Oettinger did not want to comment on the contents of the Commission’s internal debate. Environmentalists are horrified.

With its timid policy, the EU Commission is far removed from the European Parliament. Two committees are promoting three binding climate targets for 2030: 40 percent for CO2 emissions reduction and for improving energy efficiency, and 30 percent for renewable energy. However, many EU countries reject new binding climate targets. It is therefore questionable whether the EU Parliament can prevail with its ambitious demands in the climate debate.

Translation Philipp Mueller

Full story (in German)