EU fails credibility test on 2030 climate and energy ambition | WWF

EU fails credibility test on 2030 climate and energy ambition

Posted on 24 October 2014
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Last night the European Council agreed a 2030 climate and energy framework with the headline targets of at least 40% greenhouse reductions, at least 27% renewable energy and at least 27% energy savings. In doing so EU leaders have missed the opportunity to build a better future for European citizens, ignoring the significant gains to their well-being that greater ambition would yield. By slowing down the pace of EU action, the Council has also aimed well below what is expected of Europe internationally.

Jason Anderson, Head of EU climate and energy policy at WWF European Policy Office said:

“European leaders are sacrificing our futures on the altar of politics. Today’s result seems designed keep vested interests from the old economy happy, at the cost of the wellbeing of citizens and forward-looking industries. Big polluters will be pleased since they may escape a meaningful pollution price signal for at least another decade.

These renewable energy and efficiency targets are near or even below business as usual trends. The carbon market will remain irrelevant for a decade and there’s nothing here to reign in coal power. Europe’s early efforts to combat climate change and advance clean energy have been set adrift by Council.

The coming months will be crucial to avoid the worst implications of this decision. The EU will need to revise its target upwards, as it is asking other countries in the UN to do. Those Member States who see the benefits of climate action will try to fill the void with domestic policy, but action will be  fractured, and an EU policy response will be necessary.”

Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative said:

“These targets are thoroughly inadequate. We are facing what is likely to be the warmest year ever, heat waves and flooding are already hitting Europe, and the developing world is experiencing even more dire impacts. European countries need to deliver targets that will drive a rapid and just transition out of fossil fuels and into renewables and energy efficiency. Until they have done so, they cannot continue to claim to be climate leaders.”

Next steps

Several elements are necessary to prevent the Council’s decisions from blocking progress on EU climate and energy:
  • In the UN climate talks the EU is supporting as an assessment of the likely gap between planned reductions and those needed to stay below 2 degrees global warming. This will be used to push countries to deepen their commitments - making the EU itself a prime candidate to perform such a review in light of its own weak showing in Council.
  • The EU must enhance a suite of effective measures, not fixating primarily on the ETS. A revised Energy Efficiency Directive, and market and infrastructure changes enabling more renewables will be essential. Introduction of an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) would prevent the worst polluters from undermining decarbonisation.
  • The European Commission has already tabled a legislative proposal to introduce a ‘Market Stability Reserve’ (MSR) under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). That proposal should be amended by Parliament to act sooner and trigger cancellation of the excess “toxic tonnes” that are poisoning the proper functioning of the carbon market.
  • By scrapping national binding targets for renewables and failing to make the efficiency target either binding at EU or national level, Council has put implementation in danger and added uncertainty to the market. The Commission will need to present a very well thought-through ‘governance’ proposal to make this issue something more than what is it now: a fig leaf for failing to enact clear targets. EU policy for renewables and efficiency must accelerate member state deployment and hold them accountable for progress.


Jason Anderson
Head of Climate & Energy
WWF European Policy Office
Phone:+32 2 740 09 35
Mobile:+32 4 74 837 603

Audrey Gueudet
Climate & Energy Media and Communication Officer
WWF European Policy Officer
Phone: +32 2 743 88 06
Mobile: + 32 494 03 20 27
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