MEPs rubbish EU Commission’s lack of ambition on climate change

Ambition on climate change

MEPs voted today for three binding climate targets for 2030. Creative Commons: European Parliament, 2013

MEPs have voted in favour of the EU adopting a three-pronged approach to tackle climate change, agreeing a 40% emissions reduction target, a 40% energy efficiency target and a 30% renewables goal by 2030.

The vote will feed into the ongoing debate in the EU about a new set of climate and energy policies for after 2020.

MEPs remained divided along political and national lines during a debate in the European Parliament last night.

Some MEPs expressed concerns that the targets would leave the EU unable to compete and provoke raging energy prices, but when push came to shove common sense won over outdated rhetoric in a vote today that saw a majority of MEPs push back on last month’s weak Commission proposal.

The vote shows that there is real ambition throughout Europe for strong action on climate change and a clear rejection of the Commission’s one-legged approach.

Reacting to the positive vote today, a wide range of NGOs and business associations said European governments now needed to strengthen the 2030 climate package.

Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Frederic Thoma said:

Europe cannot lead on clean energy development without clear enforceable targets for renewables and efficiency. With its call for binding targets today, the parliament has drawn a line in the sand to give investors the certainty they need. Now EU governments have to raise the bar to secure a clean energy future for Europe.

Some NGOs highlighted that the MEPs target of 40% greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030 was still short of what was needed for Europe to do its fair share to keep global temperatures below 2°C.

Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe said:

The climate and energy targets adopted today by Parliament are inadequate for the EU to deliver on its fair share of the global effort to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees. We welcome the fact that the European Parliament recognizes the benefits that a three target approach can deliver on jobs, investor certainty and savings on fossil fuel imports.

Earlier this week, a coalition of 23 NGOs and lobbyists have written to Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel warning that a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 is too low and threatens the creation of millions of green jobs.

The UK government has also been challenged by members of the ruling Tory party to focus on policies that don’t pitch the environment against the economy.

Key business figures likewise want more action, slamming remarks made by EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger, which cast doubt over the feasibility of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

In a separate vote, the Parliament’s Conference of Committee Chairs gave its full support to Commission plans to raise the price of carbon by backloading millions of allowances in the flagging EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) which may now see a much needed rise in permit prices.

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