The European Commission has delayed a package of proposals for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and increasing the use of renewable energy sources until January next year to avoid public splits ahead of a major international conference on climate change in Bali in December.
The Commission was to come out with a package on 5 December of targets for national cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, clean coal and carbon capture and storage as well as an overhaul of the emissions trading scheme.
But a Commission spokesman said that the package, which would also include national targets for achieving a 20% share of renewables in energy use across the EU by 2020, had been delayed because José Manuel Barroso, the Commission president, “wanted to wait until after Bali”. At the Bali conference, on 3-14 December, 180 countries will discuss climate change and a possible successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Claude Turmes, a Luxembourg Green MEP, said that the reason for the delay was “political” even though the Commission claimed that there were technical reasons for it. “Some people were aware that if the Commission made an announcement in Bali on 5 December with very strong reactions from some member states the EU would have been in an impossible situation,” Turmes said.
The MEP added that internal wrangling about the EU’s own targets for emissions cuts or green energy would have undermined its ability to convince other countries to sign up to ambitious targets for action on climate change.
Andris Piebalgs, the European energy commissioner, admitted on Wednesday (24 October) that the package had been delayed to allow time to win greater support. “We can’t afford to be split on the day of adoption. We need 100% support of all member states,” he said.
Deciding each member state’s target in order to meet the overall goal of 20% for renewables in energy production across the EU is a particularly sensitive issue. The UK government is warning that a national target of more than 9% would be too expensive. Germany has expressed concern that changes to incentive schemes to boost the use of renewables could undermine its national system of feed-in tariffs which offer guaranteed higher prices to wind power generators and which have been successful in raising the share of renewables in power generation in Germany.
But Piebalgs insisted that the Commission would stick to the 20% binding target. “There is no way to change the binding 20% target. Member states are committed and the Commission will defend the decision. There will be no scaling down,” he said.
The commissioner pointed out that all member states shared the opinion of the Stern report on the impact of climate change, which warned that late action would cost more in the long-run. “Acting now is cost-efficient,” he said.
The package is now expected in January. The Commission is still planning to present its proposal on reducing CO2 emissions from motor vehicles before the end of the year.
By Simon Taylor
25 October 2007
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