2030 climate and energy package: is the European Commission white paper guided by analysis or politics?



Posted on 21 January 2014  | 

As the European Commission unveils its proposals for climate and energy policies up to 2030 tomorrow, a closer look at the EC’s supporting technical documents reveals important tensions [1] between the technically most appropriate and politically most acceptable ways forward. The question is now: will the European Commission follow full, expert modelling, or be led by Europe’s less ambitious voices?

“An independent analysis [2] [3] shows that more ambitious decarbonisation scenarios deliver greater benefits, though the EC’s draft impact assessment is limited to 45% emissions cuts, and the political discussion is focused on even lower figures”, said Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy at WWF European Policy Office.

“It also reveals that despite the need to ensure long term decarbonisation, European Commission proposals for 2030 appear to reduce ambition for 2050 compared to previous publications. The European Commission’s work should be based on expert analysis and resist Europe’s least ambitious voices, or the EU will face 10 years of climate inaction, energy sector stagnation, and lost environmental and economic opportunities.”

ENDS

Note to the editors:

[1] Analysis of supporting documents:

Headline analysis

Detail taken from draft impact assessment

Talking point

The scenarios fail to reveal the point at which costs start to outweigh benefits because any options that deliver over 45% emissions reductions were discarded without clear reasoning and despite many stakeholders calling for higher levels of ambition.

·      The impact assessment uses two economic models, both of which show greater economic benefits (jobs and GDP growth) from decarbonisation scenarios than from the reference case. 

·      The impact assessment scenario that uses targets of 45% emissions reductions, 35% renewable energy, and energy efficiency measures delivers more GDP growth than the scenario with lower targets, and almost the same GDP growth as a greenhouse gas target only scenario.

·      More ambitious scenarios in the impact assessment deliver more jobs, higher health benefits, and lower fossil fuel import bills.

The Commission’s latest scenarios clearly show that higher ambition produces greater benefits. However, the scenarios fail to clearly identify the ambition level at which costs outweigh benefits. Given the technical benefits of greater ambition, it is not clear why the Commission seems to be limiting its policy choices by only looking at scenarios achieving between 35%-45% emissions reductions.

The impact assessment makes clear that a positive political context and the enabling policies that go with it are essential for decarbonisation scenarios to deliver the required emissions reductions up to 2050.

·      Enabling policies identified in the impact assessment include infrastructure development, R&D/innovation, and public acceptance of technologies. More detail is expected in final impact assessment annex.

·      Decarbonisation scenarios in the impact assessment depend on a positive political context to provide enabling policies in order to achieve a low carbon economy in 2050.

·      None of the impact assessment scenarios model 95% emissions reductions by 2050.

The long-term success of the Commission’s decarbonisation scenarios depends on a positive policy context.  However, it is not clear how the Commission’s technical proposals support the development of ambitious political positions.

By focusing on the 2030 horizon, the European Commission has produced impact assessment scenarios that deliver less renewable energy and emissions reductions by 2050 than earlier scenarios from the Energy Roadmap 2050.

·      The 2030 impact assessment scenario that includes a target of 35% RES only delivers 45% RES (and 80% emissions reductions) in 2050, whereas the Commission’s earlier high renewable energy scenario (Energy Raodmap 2050) delivers 60% renewable energy (83% emissions reductions) in 2050. 

·      In the impact assessment scenarios, lower levels of renewables and/or high efficiency increases the dependence on CCS and nuclear power to achieve decarbonisation.

The Commission’s proposals for 2030 should support long term decarbonisation.  Instead, they appear, for political reasons to lower long-term decarbonisation ambition and thereby increase the technical risks of relying on unproven CCS and unpopular nuclear.  

The draft impact assessment fails to provide information on assumptions regarding technology capital costs, levelised cost of electricity, or discount rates used – unlike previously published scenarios

·         The scenarios prepared for the Energy Roadmap 2050 were based on underlying capital cost assumptions for renewable energy that many believed were unnecessarily pessimistic. 

·         In particular, current and future solar PV cost assumptions were clearly too high.

·         In contrast, assumptions about future cost improvements for nuclear and CCS were comparatively optimistic.

It is impossible to tell whether the current impact assessment scenarios correct earlier Commission pessimism about the falling cost of renewable energy –thereby providing a more accurate assessment of the costs and benefits of energy sector decarbonisation.


[2] WWF, E3G, CAN Europe, FoE Europe, and Greenpeace commissioned the Wuppertal Institute Draft Working Paper: Technical analysis and comparison of underlying scenarios for the forthcoming European Commission White Paper on a 2030 climate and energy policy framework http://wupperinst.org/en/publications/details/wi/a/s/ad/2469/

[3] The European Climate Foundation has commissioned an economic analysis of the impact assessment but this work is ongoing and will only be finalised once the impact assessment is published.

[4] 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 - http://www.wwf.eu/what_we_do/climate/publications_climate/?209335/WWF-position-on-2030-EU-Climate-and-Energy-policy


For further information:

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

Audrey Gueudet
Media & Communications Officer
Climate & Energy Unit
WWF European Policy Officer
agueudet@wwf.eu
Phone: +32 2 743 88 06
Mobile: + 32 494 03 20 27

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