Commission paper on climate and energy will indicate whose side EC takes on Europe's environmental and economic future | WWF

Commission paper on climate and energy will indicate whose side EC takes on Europe's environmental and economic future

Posted on
20 January 2014

The European Commission

When and Where?

Wednesday 22 January, Brussels


On 22 January the European Commission will unveil its proposals for climate and energy policies up to 2030. Do Europe's Commissioners believe they can continue the modernisation of Europe’s energy system and help stave off disastrous climate impacts? The latest intelligence is unclear as to whether the Commission will be sufficiently self-confident and ambitious, with last minute debates expected right up to publication of this heavily guarded document.

Based on leaked background papers, the Commission is considering options for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 35, 40, or 45% -having already discarded options proposed by the European renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, as well as environmental NGOs, that would deliver higher pollution cuts. However, even a 45% emissions cut would represent a slowing down of annual emissions reductions achieved in recent years - throwing into question the commitment to avoid dangerous climate change made by President Barroso’s first Commission.

Beyond the overall target on emissions cuts, Commissioners also have to decide whether to continue one of the most successful recent EU initiatives - binding national targets for renewable energy generation. Failure to do so would reveal the extent to which today’s Commissioners have reverted to a fossil fuel vision, reinforced by potential weaknesses in rules on shale gas and petroleum extraction in the white paper. Or perhaps they will take the risk of betting on unproven carbon capture and storage and/or increasingly expensive nuclear power instead of supporting the ongoing success of renewable energy, in which the EU is a world leader.

Commissioners also face the opportunity of promoting energy savings to a central role. While the expectation is that energy savings will continue to be legislated for separately, European Commissioners could instead ensure a fully coherent package by including a binding target to cut energy use, as called for by the European Parliament’s environment and industry committees, together with a binding renewable energy target.

With all options still open to European Commissioners, the final days of internal debate are essential. Will the Commissioners gut the EU’s climate and energy legislation, or will they propose measures that will allow us to continue as a world leader in the industrial transformation that is essential for our society, economy, and environment?

Quotes from Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy at WWF European Policy Office:

“On Wednesday, the European Commission faces the same choice on climate and energy policy as it has in many other areas - can it lead the challenging process of modernisation or will it follow the easier route of maintaining the status quo?

Unless today’s European Commissioners have the strength of conviction and character needed to resist vested interests in the most polluting industries, Europe will face 10 years of climate inaction, energy sector stagnation, and lost social, environmental, and economic opportunities.

A weak Commission position would not only put climate at risk but also stall Europe’s industrial transition, depriving it of a modernisation agenda that fosters European innovation, prosperity and jobs.

It is now up to President Barroso to decide on the kind of legacy he wants to leave behind. Does he want to be remembered as the president who said yes to more fossil fuels and pollution or the one who secured Europe’s future as a world leading sustainable economic power?”


Note to the editors:

WWF is calling for EU targets on greenhouse gas cuts (at least 55%), renewable energy generation (at least 45%), and energy savings (at least 40%), which are legally binding and effort shared between Member States. Further details can be found in WWF’s response to the European Commission Green Paper on a 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies -


Jason Anderson
Head of Climate & Energy
WWF European Policy Office
Phone:+32 2 740 09 35
Mobile:+32 4 74 837 603

Audrey Gueudet
Climate & Energy Media and Communication Officer
WWF European Policy Officer
Phone: +32 2 743 88 06 
Mobile: + 32 494 03 20 27

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