European Union Commits to Cut Emissions by 40% by 2030

Monday, December 8, 2014

On the 23rd October 2014 the 28 leaders of the European Union committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 under a new climate agreement.

Leaders met in Brussels to debate the climate and energy agenda for Europe, and to review the existing ’20-20-20’ targets, which were set in 2007.  These targets committed to Member States to a number of targets for 2020, including a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions against 1990 levels, 20% renewables target and a 20% improvement in EU’s energy efficiency, 

Despite clear divisions amongst the Member States, the European Council finally agreed on a number of more ambitious targets for 2030, ahead of the global United Nations Summit in Paris in December 2015.

As well as the greenhouse gas reduction target of 40%, two new 27% targets were agreed.  The first of these for renewable energy market share, which will be binding for the EU as a whole, and the latter as an increase in energy efficiency improvements which will apply to individual member states as an optional target.  This target for energy efficiency will also be reviewed again in 2020 where it could be raised to 30%. 

Concerns raised by Member States included a willingness to retain flexibility in meeting energy targets, without having stricter rules imposed at an EU level.  There were also particular worries about the impact of energy costs on small and medium-sized businesses as well as the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine and the impact this could have on Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

The final agreed targets are:

  • A binding EU target of at least 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990.
  • A binding target of at least 27% of renewable energy used at EU level.
  • An optional energy efficiency increase of at least 27%, to be reviewed by 2020 having in mind an EU level of 30% for 2030.
  • The completion of the internal energy market by reaching an electricity interconnection target of 15% between Members States and pushing forward important infrastructure projects.

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