Following the publication on 22 January of the European commission’s green paper on a policy framework for climate and energy from 2020 to 2030, the European parliament decided to express its views on the issue - one that is vitally important for the future of Europe - in an own-initiative report.
As there were two committees looking into this issue, two rapporteurs were appointed. I had the honour of being appointed for parliament’s environment, public health and food safety (ENVI) committee. It quickly became clear that the parliament was broadly divided into two opposing views: those that supported a framework with the single goal of reducing CO2 emissions and those who backed an approach with three targets, in keeping with the 20-20-20 framework.
As the commission and parliament diaries were particularly busy, it was impossible for the commission to wait for the results of a plenary vote on the own-initiative report before publishing its views. I would like to make several points about the issue.
Firstl the binding 40 per cent target for reducing CO2 emissions matches the target set by the parliament. This must help us reach our long-term target, as defined in the 2050 roadmap. Second, the 27 per cent target for the renewable share in our energy mix, which is also binding is clearly not ambitious enough. If we continue as we are, we will likely achieve a 24 per cent improvement by 2030. It’s pretty clear to say that the commission’s approach is not very daring.
[pullquote]The new governance model laid down by the commission is a real cause for concern for the parliament, as we get the feeling that the commission is trying to sideline us by only including member states and itself in the process[/pullquote]. If the commission continues in this vein and confirms it in future legislative proposals, we will have to wait for a decisive reaction from MEPs, which certainly doesn’t want to be relieved of its prerogative.
Regarding reform of the emission trading scheme (ETS), if the commission identifies the exact problem and solutions, forecast for 2021, it will be much too late. To save the ETS, there needs to be reform as soon as possible or the low price of carbon will never be able to fulfil its role.
Finally, I must mention the one thing that has not been touched on and that is energy efficiency. While I understand the need to wait for the review of the relevant directive before making an official announcement, the importance of energy efficiency should have been confirmed given the many advantages it offers.
It is important that parliament expresses its views clearly and forcefully on the framework that it would like. I am delighted that last week’s plenary vote confirmed the pathway mapped out for the joint ENVI and industry, research and energy committee, defining a framework with three binding targets, including 40 per cent energy efficiency and upholding the plan to introduce structural reform to the ETS.
The parliament has clearly made these two measures - ETS reform and energy efficiency - the cornerstones for its vision for 2030. I would just like to remind them that, as well as reducing our dependence on countries that do not always respect our European values and significantly cutting our spending on energy, successfully reaching the 40 per cent target would, without any additional measures, reduce our CO2 emissions by 50 per cent, as well as resulting in renewable energies representing 35 per cent of our energy mix. The cheapest energy will always be the energy that we don’t use. I urge the council to listen to this common sense message from MEPs.