In the wake of the Paris Agreement, the world is ramping up its drive to achieve 100% renewable energy. By decreasing, and eventually eliminating, our dependency on fossil fuels, we will leave the planet in a better state for our children and grandchildren.
The EU is taking a proactive approach to ensuring its member states do their bit in the global war on climate change. It originally set a renewable energy target of 27% by 2030. This was met with disapproval by the UK, whose green groups claimed that the target was not high enough to make a real impact.
Now, the target sits at 32%. This is target for the amount of energy consumed by the EU that will come from renewable sources. The climate chief of the EU has praised the decision to raise the target and believes it is a big win for the bloc. It also shows how serious countries are taking the switch over to clean energy.
Energy ministers have made the new target of 32% renewable energy by 2030 binding. While this is seen as a positive move by a number of member states, some are still disappointed and believe that the target does not go far enough. Other nations hoped for a more ambitious target.
The decision was made after 18 months of negotiations within the EU Council. Since announcing the figure, the new target has been warmly welcomed by the renewables industry. Furter to this, the trade body for European energy utilities was also happy with the result, calling it a decent compromise.
Throughout the talks, different countries put forward what they believed the target should be. The UK suggested a modest 30%, 2% less than France’s recommendation of 32%. This comes in the wake of France’s new pro-renewables attitude. Meanwhile, Spain and Italy were calling for 35%.
Referring to the new target, Miguel Arias Cañete, the climate commissioner for the EU said “This new ambition will help us meet our Paris agreement goals and will translate into more jobs, lower energy bills for consumers and less energy imports.”
What’s more, the fact that the target is binding will provide certainty for investors. And, the plan to increase the target includes a provision that the figure will be reviewed in 2023 and could well be raised further after review.
Of course, Brexit is also a consideration. It is unclear whether the UK will be bound by the target once it leaves the EU. This will depend on the type of exit deal reached by the powers that be.
In 2016, around 17% of EU energy consumption came from renewable sources. The UK, meanwhile, was on 9%.
However, other member states have much more impressive figures, with Sweden using well over 50%. This has led green energy advocates to complain that the figure is not ambitious enough given that a number of countries are already well on track to reach or beat it. There has also been criticism by environmental groups of biomass being considered a renewable energy source.
Critics have called the new target paltry and said it will not suffice to ensure a climate-safe, fossil fuel free future. They believe it does not recognise the shift in renewable landscape nor does it take into account the falling costs of solar and wind power.