EU unveils plans to sharply increase ‘clean energy’ use
02 December 2016 | Mitigation
The EU on Wednesday unveiled “clean energy” plans to boost renewables, cut waste and reduce subsidies for coal power in a bid to meet commitments under the Paris climate deal.
Binding energy efficiency targets would also be raised by 30 percent by 2030 under the sweeping package of measures from the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm.
But environmental groups criticized the 28-nation EU for doing too little to end subsidies for carbon-spewing coal power plants and said investments in renewables had been undermined.
“We will help Europe turn the Paris agreement into concrete action,” EU climate commissioner Miguel Canete told reporters in Brussels.
Under the Paris climate deal struck almost a year ago, the EU plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and make renewable energy account for 27 percent of energy use.
In 2030, the EU aims to have half of the bloc’s electricity come from renewables such as wind and solar power. By 2050, it hopes electricity will be carbon free.
The package calls for making renewable energy increasingly market-based under a regulatory framework.
“Our proposals will boost trading across borders, create a level playing field for renewables, and remove barriers for new actors in the market … ensuring certainty for investors,” Canete said.
The renewables plan also aims to promote more jobs in a sector that already employs more than 1 million people, while reversing an economic trend — investment in renewables has dropped by half since 2011.
‘Polluting fossil fuels’
The 1,000 pages of measures — which still need to be approved by EU nations and the European Parliament — aim to overhaul the energy market and ensure the shift to clean energy.
The commission is calling for reducing so-called capacity mechanisms, which are seen as government subsidies used to help power companies avoid electricity blackouts.
But Canete said: “Capacity mechanisms will not be used as a backdoor subsidy of high-polluting fossil fuels. That would go against our climate objectives.”
He said this means the EU has set a limit of 550 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour for new plants while giving time for existing capacity mechanisms to adapt to the new rules.
The commission is also proposing a binding 30 percent energy efficiency target for 2030, up from the current target of at least 27 percent. This calls for equipping buildings with new energy saving technology.
The European Parliament had called for a more ambitious target of 40 percent, with support from industrial heavyweights.
However, BusinessEurope, the European employers association, opposed the 30 percent goal as a further blow to the EU’s carbon market — the emissions trading system — which has been hit by falling prices.
Source: Japan Times