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Germany Wins Climate Battle: EU Commission Abandons Plans For New 2030 Climate Goal


The European Commission has given up plans to ramp up Europe’s 40% emissions reduction goal for 2030 to 45%, according to German media. But the EU executive insists that a formal increase was never on the table.

In October 2014, EU leaders agreed on cutting emissions by 40% compared with 1990 levels by the end of the next decade. But since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 and the EU has nearly finalised 2016’s Clean Energy Package that figure has been called into question.

EU energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said earlier this year that the bloc would “de facto” hit 45% thanks to the new laws on renewables and energy efficiency, suggesting the EU could make the figure legally binding.

The EU’s top energy and climate official revealed on Wednesday (20 June) that the bloc is now set to increase its emissions reduction pledge from 40% by 2030 to 45%, after EU negotiators sealed agreements on three clean energy laws in the past fortnight.

But the Commission told EURACTIV that Cañete never actually announced an official target increase. Changing the target would mean agreement in the Council, which looks unlikely given the opposition of countries like Germany.

According to German media, both Cañete and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had been in favour of tighter reduction goals to sharpen the EU’s environmental protection profile.

Together with other European lobby groups, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) opposed tighter targets while Chancellor Angela Merkel had said: “I think we should first stick to the goals we have already set for ourselves. I don’t think permanently setting ourselves new goals makes any sense.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke against setting more ambitious EU climate targets on Sunday (26 August) but supported the idea of a transition towards a decarbonised transport sector.

Germany’s opposition

NGO Germanwatch said the main reason for Cañete’s alleged backtrack was opposition from the German government.

“The devastating drought period this summer is hardly over, yet the German government already torpedoes potential success at the upcoming climate summit in Katowice, Poland,” said Christoph Bals, political director of the NGO. 

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