News

EU Environment Council Considers 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework

European Union 3 March 2014: The first meeting of the Environment Council of the EU under the Greek Presidency discussed, inter alia: climate change; genetically-modified organisms (GMOs); the Annual Growth Survey 2014, including how to improve the uptake of green economy priorities in national reform programmes; and a clean air programme for Europe.

Regarding climate change, the Council addressed: ‘A policy framework on climate and energy for the period 2020-2030;' and the need to prepare for negotiations of a new global climate agreement. Regarding ratification of the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment, ratification in early 2015 was suggested in order to enhance the credibility of the EU and its member States in the UN climate negotiations.

The 2030 framework for climate and energy policies, communicated by the European Commission in January, aims to make the EU economy and energy system more competitive, secure and sustainable, with the Commission proposing that, by 2030, the EU: reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% below 1990 levels through domestic measures alone; increase its share of renewable energy to at least 27%; and improve energy efficiency. The Commission also outlines a new governance framework for climate and energy policies, and a set of key indicators to assess progress over time.

Debate on the framework was deemed necessary as investors, businesses and citizens desire clarity and predictability regarding future climate and energy policies. The discussion was structured around: the overall approach of the 2030 policy framework; whether the framework strikes the appropriate balance between ambition and flexibility; and next steps and aspects that require further discussion and definition.

During the discussions, member States agreed to balance environmental sustainability, competitiveness and security of energy supply, and supported flexibility regarding the most cost-effective measures to achieve the overall emission reduction target. They acknowledged that how this flexibility works in practice, particularly with respect to renewables and the governance framework, remains unclear. Delegates diverged on level of ambition, number and nature of targets, and timing of decisions on future targets. Some supported quick agreement of the framework, while others said more time was required to reflect on its elements, particularly in light of international developments.

The Council met in Brussels, Belgium, on 3 March 2014. The exchange of views will contribute to discussions on the 2030 framework at next European Council meeting on 20-21 March 2014. [European Council Press Release]