STRASBOURG – On 22 January, the European Commission will present the climate targets for 2030 although so far negotiations have proved difficult over the level of greenhouse gas emission reductions the Union is prepared to accept.
“I hope that they will follow the line of the two committees of the European Parliament so to fix three binding targets for CO2 reduction, for renewables and for efficiency,” Greens/EFA Co-President Rebecca Harms told New Europe on 14 January. “In addition as a Green I hope that those targets will be ambitious enough to serve our climate and energy goals,” the German MEP added.
She argued that there are two driving interests behind this discussion on the 2030 targets. The one interest is to get a better strategy in a world of limited resources, especially energy resources, Harms said, calling for becoming less dependent on high oil and gas prices for imports as well as imports of other energy resources. Efficiency matter a lot in this context, she said. “In addition we have this overwhelming target to protect the environment. So the CO2 reduction target is the other very important figure in this triangle of strategic targets so the better we are in energy efficiency and renewables the better we will be also in this target in our objective to protect the climate,” Harms added.
“Ambitious climate targets must always also take into consideration what is necessary to achieve the 2% target which has been recommended as crucial by international climate scientists since decades,” Harms said.
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) President Hans Swoboda from Austria told New Europe that his group is in favor of stricter targets because many of the core industries can fulfill the targets. “Of course we want to keep industries inside the European Union,” he said. “We don’t want to push them out that would be absolutely negative. But I think on the renewables, if you look at solar energy in the south, including in Greece, there is not at all enough use of the energy in the country, and not at all enough use of producing solar electricity even to export to other countries,” he said.
Turning to the controversial issue of shale gas, Swoboda said that even in the US now there is doubt for that. “Investment in shale gas is going down because it’s not as profitable as it was seen. I’m also pragmatic on shale gas but let’s not overestimate the importance of shale gas,” he said.
German MEP Jo Leinen told New Europe in Strasbourg that there is legislation on the table on the environment impact assessment that should cover shale gas exploration and shale gas exploitation. There is also a separate proposal by the European Commission for shale gas legislation to define the criteria under which shale gas can exploited in Europe.
Leinen, who is a former president of the Environment Public Health and Safety committee, stressed that a successful climate strategy needs clear targets for renewable energies and energy efficiency. “But it’s clear that for a generation or even two we need an additional energy source,” he said, adding that natural gas is among the preferred options at the moment to address the issue of climate change.
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