France, the Netherlands, Ireland and several other EU countries are reluctant to back a European Commission proposal to boost the EU’s 2030 renewable energy target in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, EURACTIV can confirm.
European Union countries are currently debating plans to increase the bloc’s renewable energy target to 45% by 2030, in line with proposals from the European Commission presented in May this year.
The revised target came as Europe seeks to exit Russian fossil fuels “well before 2030” in a bid to stop funding the Kremlin’s war effort.
“This is not just a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war against our energy, a war against our economy, a war against our values and a war against our future,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. who defended the plans before the European Parliament in September.
But EU member states are reluctant to back the 45% target, according to a document outlining the position of EU capitals ahead of a meeting of EU energy ministers on Monday (Dec 19).
Instead, most EU countries would prefer to stick to the 40% target put forward by the Commission in July 2021, according to the paper prepared by the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency.
“Member States shall collectively ensure that the share of energy from renewable sources in the Union’s gross final energy consumption by 2030 is at least 40%,” the document reads, referring to the 2030 target that EU countries signed at an earlier meeting in June.
According to European diplomats in Brussels, there is currently no majority in favor of the higher target, with several key countries such as France, the Netherlands and Ireland so far refusing to back the 45% target.
“The text proposed by the presidency indicates 40% and that seems good to us. We are ready to support the general approach,” said an EU diplomat who spoke to EURACTIV on condition of anonymity.
europe currently sources just over 22% of its energy from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass.
Nine EU countries speak in favor of the 45% target
Meanwhile, some other countries are pushing for greater ambition. Among them are Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain, which have issued a joint document supporting the 45% target.
“Given the current energy crisis and the need for a rapid reduction in the EU’s dependence on fossil sources, in particular from Russia, while increasing security of supply, we believe that an increase in the renewable energy target is indispensable. at 45%”. says the document, obtained by EURACTIV.
“In addition to saving energy, it is more important and urgent than ever to rapidly increase renewable energy,” he adds, saying this is a “requirement to regain control over energy prices” and keep up with the climate commitment of the EU under the Paris Agreement. .
The target of 45% renewable energy by 2030 is also backed by the European Parliament, which has the same voice as the EU member states.
Finland is also understood to support the 45% target, but has so far not joined the document, according to sources familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, Sweden is supportive but holding back as it is set to take over the rotating six-month EU presidency from the Czech Republic on January 1 and is supposed to maintain a neutral stance.
Wind industry says priority is ensuring targets are met
Activists have criticized the Czech EU presidency for not supporting greater ambition in renewable energy and sticking to the 40% target that was initially put forward before the Russian war in Ukraine.
“This attempt by the Czech presidency to push for a lower target undermines the EU’s commitment to its people and to Ukraine,” said Seda Orhan, renewable energy campaigner at CAN Europe.
Pieter de Pous, from the climate think tank E3G, described the 40% target as “inadequate” and urged big EU member states such as France to take a clearer stance in favor of more renewables.
“Until now, France, Ireland and the Netherlands have remained ambiguous on the issue and will need to come out in support of the 45% to reach an agreement that will boost the EU’s efforts to reduce its dependency on gas,” de Pous said. .
SolarPower Europe, a trade association, has come out to support the 45% targetsaying it will put Europe on track to meet its climate commitments.
But the wind industry has taken a more nuanced stance, saying the priority is ensuring targets can be met.
“The new targets are great, but EU member states must also ensure these targets can be met,” said WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson, urging EU countries to set aside enough sites for wind-up projects. wind energy and improve permits.
“Today’s permitting procedures are too complex and too long to get anywhere near the 40% or 45% target,” he told EURACTIV.
Increasing wind power production will also require “huge investments” in manufacturing capacity, as well as investments in supporting infrastructure such as grids, ports and vessels.
“If these issues are not addressed, any updated 2030 renewable energy targets will remain academic. What we need are strong industrial policies for renewable energy,” Dickson warned.
> The document of the Czech Presidency is available below. can also be downloaded here.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]