Ministers from the 13 EU ‘Green Growth Group’ countries, including Britain’s secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey, have released a joint statement urging the European Council to adopt a climate and energy framework going forward to 2030.
The UK had previously rejected any new kind of renewable energy target to replace the 20% goal for 2020 but now appears to back a 27%, EU-wide goal for 2030.
A statement by the group detailing a list of proposals and recommendations for environmental action for Europe, has been posted on the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) website. The group also includes France’s minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy Philippe Martin, as well as officials from Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Among the points raised by the group was an acknowledgement that some energy intensive industries currently face a challenge to their competitiveness, created in part by the increasing divergence of energy prices in the US and the EU. However the group argues strongly against any notion that EU energy and climate policies are the cause of the gap and the 13 signatories of the statement believe the competitiveness of European industry is paramount to the union’s fortunes.
The Green Growth Group, an “informal grouping of like-minded energy, climate and environment Ministers from 13 EU Member States”, published a pamphlet in October to contribute to the consultative process on renewable energy targets for the EU. The October pamphlet called for action to lower and limit carbon emissions and strongly backed evidence linking human behaviour to climate change.
After a lengthy consultation process, EU targets for renewable energy were set at a somewhat ambiguous 20% of generation by 2020, then 27% by 2027 across Europe but with 30% binding national goals. Frauke Thies, policy director of the European Photovoltaics Industry Association (EPIA), said this target was “little more than business as usual”, implying a lack of ambition.
The latest Green Growth Group statement, published on Monday, put nine points forward for consideration, beginning with the group’s strong urging of the EU to agree climate targets. The group would like to see an EU-wide commitment to a renewable energy target of 27%, according to the statement. However the group believes this should not be enforced through nationally binding targets. Instead it should be left to the freedom of member states to meet the target as they see fit, through their chosen mix of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
The ministers also believe an EU-wide set of binding targets should be set for greenhouse gases, which it says should be “at least 40%”. Delays in setting these targets and sticking to the course would jeopardise investment and provide too much uncertainty, according to the statement.
The Green Growth Group urges EU member states to discuss openly the fairness and cost-effectiveness of renewable energy, sustainability and energy efficiency and believes the intensity of discussions should increase in order to develop broad agreement on targets and best practise.
Some of the most ambitious goals put forward by the 13 ministers include recommending a limit of two degrees for global temperature rise; the EU emissions trading scheme to be urgently and significantly strengthened. The group calls an emissions trading scheme “the cornerstone of a cost-efficient decarbonisation strategy and for unlocking low carbon investment”.