On January 9th 2014 the European Parliament’s joint committee meeting of the Industry Research and Energy (ITRE) and Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) committees passed a draft report on the EU’s 2030 framework for climate and energy policies. A compromise amendment acknowledging the centrality of CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS) was included.
The amendment in question (compromise amendment 47) acknowledged the important role of CCS toward reaching the EU’s decarbonisation goals. It further acknowledges the role CCS should play in a transition to renewable energy, especially for energy intensive industries. Importantly, the amendment stresses the fact that renewables and CCS both have roles to play in the future EU energy mix and that they “should not be regarded as being in competition with one another”. It further goes on to note the “lack of public and private investment in this area” and calls on the European Commission “to analyse the best way forward for the development of CCS technologies in Europe and to propose appropriate measures within the 2030 framework”. Finally, it calls on best practice exchange with those in the forefront of CCS technology, notably the US and Canada.
This is a great step forward for CCS in Europe and Bellona will await the plenary vote on this report with high expectations. The final Parliament vote is scheduled to take place on February 4th and conservative interests are expected to rally in order to change the final report at this last hurdle.
European Commission now sees a Parliament set on a path to three binding targets
Although the report is a non-legislative resolution, the signals this committee vote sends just ahead of the European Commission’s presentation of the 2030 framework draft (due to take place on January 22nd) are clear. The report includes calls for three binding targets. With a vote of 66 to 42 with three abstentions, the adopted report included a 40% energy efficiency target, a 30% greenhouse gas reductions and an at least 30% renewables by 2030 target. The European Parliament thereby sends a clear signal to the Commission that ambition is expected.
While there are no doubt merits to a single target of CO2 emission reductions, including increased flexibility for Member States to achieve this as best suited to own capabilities and needs, the rollout of renewable energy in Europe is also clearly due to a binding renewables target. This was acknowledged in a letter signed by eight EU energy ministers, including France and Germany, and sent to the EU Commissioners for Energy and Climate, Gunther Oettinger and Connie Hedegaard respectively. The letter calls for a clear renewable energy target and states its impact on both investment certainty and jobs stability. The other signatories are Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Austria and Portugal. The UK, Finland and the Czech Republic have previously expressed opposition to a specific renewables target. A renewables target would prevent the UK from reaching their greenhouse gas emissions through nuclear energy, as is the plan. The Conservative Norwegian government shares the view of these latter states, that a single target is favourable.