The Committee of the Regions has expressed disappointment at the European Commission's environmental 2030 plans published today. The Committee had hoped the proposals would commit EU Member States to reducing greenhouse gases by 50%, raise the mix of renewable energy and increase energy efficiency by 2030. Finnish Vice-Chair of Espoo City Council, Sirpa Hertell, who is leading the Committee's report on the issue said, "The EU, responsible for 10-11% of the world's GHG emissions, needs structural changes with an ambitious set of binding targets for not only GHG and renewables, but also for energy efficiency if it is to continue on a path towards green and sustainable economic growth".
The European Commission began the first phase of its consultation on the 2030 targets when it released its Green Paper last March. The Committee of the Regions – the EU's assembly of local and regional authorities – will formalise its response when its members meet in Brussels on 30 January. Sirpa Hertell (FI/EPP) expects to receive the full backing from the other local and regional politicians for her report which calls for a "Need to reduce energy consumption, increase energy independence and shift from fossil-based to renewable energy sources". This must be achieved, the Committee will argue, by increasing renewable energy, reducing 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 50% (10% higher than the Commission plans released today), and binding member states to targets on energy efficiency, which has been rejected by the Commission.
Sirpa Hertell said, "We welcome the Commission's proposal to introduce binding targets on greenhouse gases and renewable energy. The previous 2020 targets drove up the share of renewable energy in the EU by 4.5%: renewables is a growth sector boosting competitiveness, creating jobs and attracting much needed investment in our communities. However, Europe's local and regional authorities insist that the EU member states must take a step further in our ambition which is why we propose 50% reduction in GHGs. Furthermore, not setting obligatory targets on energy efficiency is an opportunity missed. We should have learned from the 2020 framework: only energy efficiency was not binding and was the only target not reached. Mandatory targets must now be agreed when the EU's Energy Efficiency Directive is reviewed at the end of the year".
With a UNDP report indicating that local and regional authorities are responsible for 70% of climate mitigation and 90% of adaptation measures, Hertell also criticised the lack of a clear reference to the role of local and regional authorities in today's proposal, "Local and regional authorities are key in developing appropriate approaches to climate change and shaping the communities of the future. I deeply regret that given their responsibility for implementing climate protection and energy saving measures, they have not been appropriately recognised".
She added that, "Through the Committee's opinion and successful initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors, local and regional authorities have shown that they have the political will and commitment to tackling climate change. In Finland, for example, 14-carbon neutral municipalities are collaborating with local businesses, policy makers and residents to achieve a 80% reduction of emissions. We urge the Commission and all EU member states to match this level of ambition when a final agreement is made".
Anne Delvaux MEP (BE/EPP) backed this position adding, "On 9 January, the joint ENVI/ITRE committee in the European Parliament voted in favour of three binding targets. The role of the local and regional authorities is essential in the achievement of our climate and energy objectives. We underlined that in our report. I am also convinced that energy efficiency deserves to be one of the cornerstones of the EU 2030 climate and energy policy, alongside a structurally reformed ETS. It is disappointing to note that the Commission, despite all the benefits acknowledged to energy efficiency, does not include it in its framework proposal".
Sirpa Hertell (FI/EPP) will present her draft opinion Green Paper on Framing 2030 Climate and Energy Policy at the Committee of the Region's 105th plenary in Brussels on 30 January. The debate will be streamed live online.