“This deal is a hard-won victory in our efforts to unlock the true potential of Europe’s clean energy transition,” tweeted EU commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete.
Member states, within the European Council, also agreed to phase out the use of palm oil by 2030 and ease regulations on grassroots initiatives to generate renewable energy. Member states, however, rejected MEPs’ calls for an energy-efficiency target.
The parliament and some member states, including the new governments in Italy and Spain, had called for a 35-per-cent renewable target. The original figure being discussed was 27 per cent for renewables, which controversially includes biomass.
Greenpeace said the deal could lead to millions more solar panels on European rooftops as it made it easier for citizens to contribute to the move towards renewables.
“But the renewables target of 32 per cent is far too low and allows power companies to cling on to fossil fuels and false solutions,” Greenpeace’s Sebastian Mang said.
Other green advocates said 32 per cent was too low because member states were already on track to exceed it.
Molly Walsh of Friends of the Earth Europe said: “EU decision makers have agreed a paltry 32-per-cent target for renewable energy that is inadequate for a climate-safe, fossil-free future, and shows a failure to grasp a shifting energy landscape, including rapidly falling renewables costs.”
But Germany’s finance and energy minister Peter Altmaier rejected the higher target and was pushing for 30 per cent. Germany, which still depends heavily on coal to meet its electricity demands, this week admitted that it would not meet its 2020 environmental targets.
The Christian Democrat minister said this week that setting targets without a strategy for implementing them across the bloc undermined the EU’s credibility in the eyes of the public.
The EU is aiming to generate 20 per cent of its power from renewables by 2020, up from the current 17 per cent.
It was also agreed that at least 14 per cent of fuel for transport must come from renewables by 2030.
Activists said the agreed target could be pushed up in 2023. “The agreed 2030 binding target of 32 per cent should be seen as a starting line for the race to greater ambition,” said Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe.
Under the 2016 Paris climate agreement, the EU is trying to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 from 1990 levels.
Renewable costs are falling. Picture credit: Pixabay