EU admits it has no power to enforce its 'binding' 2030 renewable energy targets

 

Environment Editor

The EU’s energy policy was thrown into disarray today after a senior official admitted that the bloc had no power to enforce the "binding" target it had just proposed, to generate 27 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2030.

The proposal would effectively leave the EU without a renewable energy target after 2020, when the existing - enforceable - requirement to generate 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources expires. 

The 2030 renewable energy target was part of a package of measures proposed by the European Commission to tackle climate change yesterday. This included a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the zone by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and a drive to cut energy consumption by using it more efficiently.

Although the 2030 renewable target appears stronger than the 2020 one because it requires a higher percentage, the 2020 target is much more effective because it is binding on every country in the EU. By contrast, the 2030 successor is only binding on the EU as a whole, meaning it cannot be enforced.

The EU plans to reach its 27 per cent target by inviting each country to table their own renewable energy target and seeing if it adds up to 27 per cent. If it doesn’t, countries will be called upon to submit a new offer, with the process continuing until the target has been divvied out and catered for.

But a senior EU official admitted yesterday that the “binding” target was unenforceable in its current form because the block has no power to force any country to pledge a certain level of renewable energy. Furthermore, it is not able to punish any country for failing to meet whatever pledge it does make.

This raises the prospect that beyond 2020 there will effectively be no meaningful renewable energy target.

Alex Wilks, campaign director at digital campaign group Avaaz, said: “As it stands the renewable energy target [EC] President Barroso announced allows countries to pass the buck and dodge accountability. Basically, it means the actual percentage achieved will be much lower than it could be.”

“Having an enforceable domestic renewables target for the last decade has made Europe the world leader in green jobs and energy,” Mr Wilks added.

Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, confirmed that no country could be bound to generate a given amount of energy from renewable sources. He then put himself on a collision course with the EU saying he was “concerned about any renewables target” and that the amount of renewable energy Britain produced after 2020 would be determined by whether it was cheaper than other forms of low-carbon energy such as nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS is a fledgling technology that aims to capture emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants and bury them underground.

Mr Davey said that commitments to reducing emissions would require an increase in low-carbon generation, but that the market would determine how that as split between the various technologies.

As a result, Mr Davey suggested that the best he could offer the EU as it seeks to meet and account for the 27 per cent renewable energy target is a broad range of possibilities.

“The text makes it crystal clear that there will not be binding renewable targets on member states,” Mr Davey said, conceding that the “technology-neutral” approach to low-carbon generation this allowed him to take could result in less wind and solar power being built than would be the case under binding targets.

The broader proposal to reduce the EU’s emissions by 40 per cent – a target that doesn’t affect Britain because it is less ambitious than its existing legally-binding pledge – was generally welcomed.

However, many people said it did not go far enough, with Mr Davey pushing for 50 per cent.

Professor Kevin Anderson, professor of Energy and Climate Change, went even further, calling for an 80 per cent cut by 2030 if we are to have a chance of limiting global warming to 2C – the level after which the consequences become increasingly devastating.

“We have to take into account that the 40 per cent target is the death knell of 2C and probably much more aligned with 4C.”

The measures proposed will now be debated by member state governments, before they can be fully accepted. The European Council, made up of the heads of state or government of the EU member states, will discuss the proposal in March.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Supply Teachers needed in Cambridge

£21552 - £22552 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

DT Teacher - Graphics

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Part time Design and Technology...

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Head of Department - English

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: Head of Department for English. Wiltsh...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits