Environment ministers to thrash out deal on EU carbon targets for 2030

Green Paper to argue new framework must improve on weak 2020 climate change plan

Minister for the Environmen Phil Hogan said the EU needed to make a decision on carbon targets soon, as certainty was needed by governments, utilities and business. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for the Environmen Phil Hogan said the EU needed to make a decision on carbon targets soon, as certainty was needed by governments, utilities and business. Photograph: Eric Luke

Mon, Apr 22, 2013, 06:00


The first serious effort to reach formal political agreement on how to achieve ambitious and potentially divisive 2030 carbon targets for the EU will be made at an informal summit of European environment ministers in Dublin tomorrow.

The meeting, to be chaired by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, will have its first discussions on the European Commission’s major Green Paper on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies.

The current roadmap for 2030 indicates that greenhouse gas emissions would need to be reduced by 40 per cent and 30 per cent of energy come from renewable sources by that time. Those targets have not yet been formally agreed by EU leaders.

The Green Paper will argue that the 2030 framework for climate change must draw on the lessons from the 2020 targets – particularly their weakness – and identify where improvements can be made.

Legally binding
Member states will have to agree if the targets should be at national or EU level and whether they should be legally binding. Agreement is needed on the targets themselves, with some members of the view that the targets and their underlying policy are not coherent, and that there may be other ways of achieving the goals.

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Mr Hogan said it would provide the first opportunity for environment ministers to discuss the 2030 ambitions as outlined by the Green Paper with a view to getting a final EU Council decision later this year.

“It’s the first opportunity that the member states have to state where they see the positives and where further work needs to be done in relation to meeting council conclusions by the end of the year,” he said, adding that the recent failure to reach EU consensus on the 2050 carbon roadmap did not preclude agreement on 2030.

“We will have [Irish] presidential conclusions that will reflect the outcome. It will demonstrate that member states want a progressive policy and a low carbon future,” he said.

Urgency


Mr Hogan said

the EU needed to make a decision soon, as certainty was needed by governments, utilities and business on what the targets and political environment was before committing to long-term investments.

He said the Irish Government had no major issue with the Green Paper.

“It is clear there is a greater level of ambition. Competitiveness is the key. There is a need for a low-carbon climate resilient economy. We are prepared to sign up for that,” he said, adding that Ireland would be bound to the 2030 targets under his proposed climate change legislation.

Mr Hogan defended his own record on climate change, saying he had achieved more than any previous Minister in this area.

“I will challenge any other politician or commentators or former politicians to assert what other Minister has achieved as much over a short period of time.”