In order to achieve this objective, Member States have set up targets through initiatives such as the system of exchange of emission allowances or policies like the climate and energy package. The EU has managed to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gas by over 18% since 1990. Europe must take the lead and do more. The citizens expect those kinds of action. A survey conducted for the European Commission shows that in 2011, 9/10 of Europeans believe that climate change is one of the most serious problems in the world.
The European Commission adopted the climate and energy package initially in 2008 with two priorities: a common and more sustainable energy and a sustainable policy in the fight against climate change. The goal 20/20/20 for 2020 gathers three factors: a renewable energy, reducing CO2 emissions and energy efficiency.
Therefore, the plan provides:
1. Increase the share of European renewable energy to 20%.
2. Reduce CO2 emissions by 20%.
3. Increase energy efficiency by 20%.
However, a few years later the European Union wants even more ambitious objectives. During the economic crisis, the energy prices rose in nearly all Members-States since 2008 and it seems appropriate to launch new measures.
The launch of the 2030 EU Climate and Energy Package
Firstly, the Commission launched a Green Paper in 2013: a public consultation in order to determine the target for energy and climate in 2013. The project was presented in early 2014, and at the end of October the 28 Members-States adopted the plan 2030 EU Climate and Energy Package, replacing the three objectives:
1 The reduction of emissions of greenhouse gas by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 (only binding target at the Union)
2 Place the share of renewables energy to 27% against 14% today with flexibility given to Member States.
3 Make energy savings of 27%.
This policy aims to make the European Union's economy and energy system more competitive, secure and sustainable. While the EU is making good progress towards meeting its climate and energy targets for 2020, an integrated policy framework for the period up to 2030 is important in order to ensure regulatory certainty for investors and a coordinated approach among Member States. The plan presented will follow the progress towards a low-carbon economy. It aims to build a competitive and secure energy system that ensures affordable energy for all consumers, increases the security of the EU's energy supplies, reduces our dependence on energy imports and creates new opportunities for growth and jobs.
François Hollande, the French President said, "Like any agreement, it is a compromise." The former EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard is more playful: "We have done our homework, we urge you to follow the example of Europe. If all others parts of the world were equally ambitious in the fight against climate change, the world would be a lot better." The European Council will return on this issue after the conference in Paris. Mr. Herman Van Rompuy has even announced: "Review the targets upwards. The EU after 2020 will return to the goal of energy efficiency in the perspective to do eventually move to 30%”. At present, the European Union has the power to have quantified commitments for the Paris climate conference in December 2015. Eventually, the money generated by this device should be around thirty billion euros per year between 2013 and 2020, instead of the $50 billion initially expected. Moreover, the estimated energy-climate package cost has been estimated at 1% of European wealth, between 100 and 120 billion euros. It will be very little money.
However, in spite of these arguments, many voices have spoken out in order to protest against these measures.
The 2030 EU Climate and Energy Package: a controversial topic?
If the EU wants to be an example to the world, they must do more for the pro-environmental organisations. According to Oxfam and Friends of the Earth Europe, the targets are insufficient if we hope to fight against climate change. Brook Riley, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe commented: "This deal does nothing to end Europe's dependency on fossil fuels or to speed up our transition to a clean energy future.” Campaigners also criticise these measures for only focusing on action at European level. Natalia Alonso, Oxfam’s Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, said that "Today’s target of at least 40% of emissions reductions is welcome but only a first step, which falls far too short of what the EU needs to do to pull its weight in the fight against climate change." Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, also commented on this issue: "The 40% target for 2030 will not be enough to hold the increase in global warming below 2 degrees."
Cécile Gautier for Climate Action Network criticised the role played by the French state in the discussions: "It is shocking to see that France has worked behind the scenes against mandatory national targets for renewable energy development, while Germany has been more positive. If François Hollande really wants to engage France in the energy transition, it must support today a binding target of 45% renewable energy in final energy consumption in Europe by 2030, declined in national bonds."
On the other hand, some states such as the United Kingdom, Poland, Spain and Portugal pushed for lower targets during negotiations. Indeed, David Cameron does not want to be seen as surrendering too much sovereignty to the EU in the field of energy, otherwise he would face attacks from his Conservative party, which he is keen to avoid in the wake of a national election. Poland also pushed hard for special circumstances, threatening to veto the deal over fears of increases in its energy costs and damage to its domestic coal industry. It is worth noting that Poland is dependent on coal for 92% of its electricity and 55% of its total energy. Poland and other Eastern European countries were assured to receive significant financial compensation under a complicated system of concessions from the EU’s carbon trading system . Ewa Kopacz, the newly elected prime minister of Poland was deemed "victorious" after the Council. In addition, it was agreed that Spain and Portugal would also benefit from French and European aid in order to reduce their energy isolation.
The current agreement has many sides, both black and white. In order to achieve a compromise with 28 Member States, more time and strength is needed. It is obvious and preferable that environmental organisations should express their views, because it allows us to progress and to set ambitious targets.