The Commission set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels, with the role of energy efficiency to be shown in a seperate directive later this year.
They allowed a flexibility in that each member state’s contribution was not dictated, stating that allowing flexibility will “transform the energy system in a way that is adapted to national preferences and circumstances”.
Commission president José Manuel Barroso said the package was “ambitious and affordable”.
He added: “Climate action is central for the future of our planet, while a truly European energy policy is key for our competitiveness. Today’s package proves that tackling the two issues simultaneously is not contradictory, but mutually reinforcing.”
The UK called for a single carbon emissions target, saying that it would allow member states to choose the most affordable route to decarbonisation. Supporters of the renewables target said that it would give more stability to investors and a reduction in the cost of creating a renewables industry.
Connie Hedegaard, commissioner for climate action, said: “In spite of all those arguing that nothing ambitious would come out of the Commission today, we did it. A 40% emissions reduction is the most cost-effective target for the EU and it takes account of our global responsibility. And of course Europe must continue its strong focus on renewables. That is why it matters that the Commission is proposing today a binding EU-level target. The details of the framework will now have to be agreed, but the direction for Europe has been set. If all other regions were equally ambitious about tackling climate change, the world would be in significantly better shape.”
There were also measures announced to reform the emissions trading system (EU ETS) to boost the drastically low carbon price, restoring it as a signal for green investment.
The Commission proposed a “market stability reserve” to automatically adjust the supply of allowances. It will “address the surplus… and improve the system’s resilience to major shocks,” the Commission said. It follows “backloading” plans to shore up the carbon price in the short term by delaying the sale of 900 million permits.
Energy commissioner Günther Oettinger said: “The 2030 framework sets a high level of ambition for action against climate change, but it also recognises that this needs to be achieved at least cost. The internal energy market provides the basis to achieve this goal and I will continue to work on its completion in order to use its full potential. This includes the ‘Europeanisation’ of renewable energy policies.”
Approval is needed by the European Council and the European Parliament before the framework is adopted. This expected to be considered by the European Council on 20-21 March.