Europe Seeks to Bring Its Laggards on Climate Policy Into Line


(Bloomberg) — The European Union is working to bring member states that are lagging on climate and energy targets into line, stepping up pressure for more action to reduce pollution.

Energy ministers from the 28-nation bloc are due to discuss on Tuesday an analysis that showed the region may miss goal to boost clean energy use and efficiency by almost a third by 2030.

The effort led by , which holds the rotating presidency of the bloc, would give credibility to discussions about setting a target for zeroing out fossil fuel pollution by the middle of the century. Supporters of the move say ambition of that magnitude is needed to prevent the worst impacts of a warming atmosphere.

“Further progress in decarbonisation depends crucially on achieving the union’s 2030 energy efficiency and renewable energy targets,” Finland said in a document for the meeting in Brussels. “The presidency considers it of utmost importance that the EU reaches its targets for 2030.”

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The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, asked the majority of member states in June to intensify their actions and is seeking to lead the fight against global warming. The discussions will follow a summit in designed to draw attention to the issue.

Ursula von der Leyen, due to become EC president in November, has pledged a proposal during her 100 days in office to enshrine the climate-neutrality goal in law.

A package of green economy measures dubbed EU 2030 stopped short of imposing renewable energy targets at national levels. Instead, the union opted for a collective goal for the bloc as a whole to get at least 32% of its energy from renewables.

So far, that goal remains just out of reach. An assessment by the commission earlier this year showed that proportion will reach 30.4% to 31.9% by the end of the decade, meaning further action is required both to hit the current target and to open the option for a deeper net-zero goal for 2050.

Countries including Belgium, Cyprus, , Malta, , Romania and Slovenia had the biggest gaps between the planned measures and the scale of effort needed at the EU level.

Also at risk is the efficiency target, which calls for saving at least 32.5% of energy by 2030. Current plans may be enough to attain 26.3% to 30.2% of efficiency in primary energy consumption, the EC said. The best performers are , Luxembourg, , Netherlands and .

Transport and agriculture will be a particular focus. Those sectors are outside the Emissions Trading System, the region’s cap-and-trade market for carbon dioxide pollution.

While the overall reduction is projected to be in line with the target to lower emissions by at least 40%, the decline in non-ETS sectors may be 2 percentage points short of the 30% objective.

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