Columnists: Brook Riley, Rockwool International

Published on: 9 Dec 2013

Barroso’s credibility at stake on 2030 dossier

EU Commission President Barroso has met with Commissioners Hedegaard and Oettinger twice in the last month about climate and energy targets for 2030. According to contacts present in the meetings, Barroso is currently considering a 40% greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030, with no binding targets for energy savings and renewables.

To be clear what this means:  40% would be the abandonment of the EU's commitment to limit global warming to safe levels. Cross referencing analysis from the Commission, the International Energy Agency and the IPCC shows that 40% cuts give a mere 50/50 chance of keeping global warming below 2°C.

In a speech to the G8 at the end of his first mandate Barroso said, “We have set in stone a commitment to cap the temperature increase at 2°C to respect climate science” . Earlier this autumn the Commission warned “we face devastating impacts if we fail to achieve the 2°C objective” . If Barroso does back a 40% target, it will be the official withdrawal of those pledges and warnings.

As well as ignoring science, Barroso will be ignoring the Commission's impact assessment of 2030 policies which was leaked a few days ago. Here are some examples from the assessment:

-Savings on health costs – mainly due to reduced air pollution – are three times higher in a scenario with a 45% greenhouse gas target and targets for renewables and energy savings than with a 40% GHG-only scenario. The difference adds up to over €20 billion per year.

-A 40% GHG-only target would reduce energy imports by 7% by 2030. Adding specific targets and policies for renewables and energy savings would cut imports by 16% by 2030. A 45% GHG target with corresponding ambition for renewables and energy savings makes an even more pronounced difference in 2030” .

-The Commission's reference scenario predicts 32% GHG cuts by 2030 without new targets. Meanwhile, analysis by research group Ecofys shows that if ETS surpluses are taken into account, the 40% target becomes a 33% target. So a 40% target is nothing more than business as usual and will provide next to no incentive for changes needed to keep below 2°C.

The EU’s credibility is at stake, and President Barroso’s too. He rightly wants to leave a legacy as a bold climate and energy legislator. He will not leave such a legacy if he oversees the EU breaching its own commitment to 2°C . Nor if he artificially caps investment and job creation in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. Barroso and his Commission must choose how they want to be remembered.

Brook Riley, Friends of the Earth Europe

The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Brook Riley