Europe’s heads of state ironed out a number of new climate targets for 2030 today, notably setting a bloc-wide goal of 40 percent emissions reductions as compared to 1990 levels. Policymakers also agreed on a goal of producing 27 percent of the EU’s power from renewable sources by 2030, and an “indicative,” which is to say non-binding, target of boosting energy efficiency by 27 percent. Greens are applauding the deal, which was in some doubt heading in over opposition in central and eastern Europe, and the EU’s climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard hailed the agreement, saying “we have sent a strong signal to other big economies and all other countries: we have done our homework, now we urge you to follow Europe’s example.” But the targets aren’t a clear cut victory for the environmental movement, and in fact leave quite a bit of wiggle room for increasingly green-shy countries struggling to recover from the euro crisis.Let’s consider. The marquee target—a 40 percent emissions cut—represents an improvement on the bloc’s already entrenched 20 percent reduction pledge by 2020. That 20 percent cut has already been met, in large part thanks to sluggish economic growth, and now the EU is looking to double down (excuse the pun) with a 40 percent cut by 2030. That target will eventually entail binding commitments from EU member states to share these reductions, and European heads of state like France’s Francois Hollande and Germany’s Angela Merkel have stated that they hope the goal will serve as an example for the rest of the world ahead of next year’s climate summit in Paris. But to reach that agreement, the EU has had to dangle a number of financial incentives in front of coal-dependent countries like Poland.One of the most forward-looking parts of the new plan is the one that greens are lamenting the most: The 27 percent renewable energy target, while binding, applies only to the EU as a whole. That marks a watering down of what environmentalists had pushed for: binding national renewables targets for every EU member state. But by making the 27 percent renewables goal bloc-wide only, the EU is giving itself necessary flexibility, allowing members to achieve emissions cuts by whatever means work best for them.
Targets AcquiredEU Sets New 2030 Climate Goals