EU leaders agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

Guardian: “European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised.”
“As well as the greenhouse gas, two 27% targets were agreed – for renewable energy market share and increase in energy efficiency improvement. The former would be binding only on the EU as a whole. The latter would be optional, although it could be raised to 30% by a review in 2020.
….“This package is very good news for our fight against climate change,” the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, added. “No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU.”
….But a clause was inserted into the text that could trigger a review of the EU’s new targets if other countries do not come forward with comparable commitments in Paris.
The Brussels summit was dominated by arguments over energy savings and climate policy, with countries from Poland to Portugal pleading special circumstances and threatening to veto any breakthrough unless their demands were met.
David Cameron was keen to minimise any perceived loss of UK sovereignty over energy policy, for fear of further exposure to attacks from the Eurosceptic wing of his Conservative party and Ukip. The prime minister won a battle to keep policies aimed at boosting renewables and saving electricity voluntary for member states.
“It’s important that you’ve got flexibility over your energy mix,” said a Downing Street spokeswoman. Cameron had hoped to cut the energy efficiency figure to 25%, but was prepared to accept 27% as long as it was not binding on Britain.
Portugal attained a non-binding objective that 15% of the bloc’s energy be transportable via cross-border connections by 2030, with an invitation to the European Commission to make concrete proposals for project financing from the EU budget.
Danish concerns were addressed with the introduction of a “cap and trade approach” to sectors previously considered outside the bloc’s carbon market such as agriculture, buildings and transport – which alone represents 31% of the bloc’s emissions.
Poland, heavily dependent on coal-fired energy production, threatened to block the deal unless the costs to its economy and industry were discounted by €15bn-€20bn (£12bn-£16bn) between 2020 and 2030, under a complicated system of concessions from the EU’s carbon trading system.
Concessions granted to Poland will allow it to continue reaping hundreds of millions of euros in free allowances to modernise coal-fired power plants. Of eight EU nations eligible for the free allocations, Poland claimed 60% of the total up until 2019.
A poll by TNS and YouGov for the online activist group Avaaz late last week found that 56% of Poles thought that EU financial support for energy should back clean energy rather than fossil fuels.
….Intense bilateral discussions between Cameron, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other EU leaders over the last week tried to find ways of placating the Poles, who kept open their option of vetoing the summit outcome until the end.
The anticipated 40% greenhouse gas cut by 2030 would be measured against benchmark 1990 levels. That figure is to be binding on the EU and the minimum level achieved, with Germany and Britain happy to agree a higher figure.
Tony Robson, the CEO of Knauf Insulation – a leading insulation firm that had threatened to divest from Europe unless firm energy saving targets were announced – said that the 27% figure for energy efficiency improvement was “no better than business as usual” in an open letter to EU leaders.”

Guardian: Five graphs that explain the EU 2030 energy and climate deal.
“On the table are three new targets for 2030. The big one is a binding goal of getting Europe’s emissions down 40% on 1990 levels, a cut that international observers and environmentalists say is unambitious. Here’s the chart that explains why – the pink line is what the bloc’s 28 countries are already on track for, and the green is where emissions should end up with the target:
The UK is happy with a 40% carbon cut. That’s not surprising, given it has already set its own legally-binding target of a 50% cut for three years earlier than the EU goal, and the country’s emissions are on a downward long-term trend:
Next up is energy savings. The EU has a target of improving this to 20% by 2020 but there is no legal obligation on countries to meet it.
For 2030, a target for improving energy efficiency by 27% is the most likely option to get approved, again without being binding for countries – something the UK has reportedly lobbied for. As with the new emissions goal, some people think this is too low – unions want to see 40%, which they say would create more jobs in, for example, insulating people’s homes.
The third target is for share of energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. It looks like leaders will agree that 27% of energy should come from renewables by 2030 but – like the energy savings target – this won’t be binding.
The UK has been particularly vocal about this target not being binding at a national level, saying it wants to be free to meet the emissions target (see above) with other technologies, such as capturing carbon from coal and gas power plants, and new nuclear reactors such as the one planned at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The graph below also gives you a good idea of why the UK doesn’t want a binding renewables target – despite the fuss over wind turbines in the shires, the country is a laggard when it comes to the rest of Europe on renewable energy:
It’s worth saying nothing is set in stone until the outcome of this week’s meeting – so there may be some modest tweaks to the 2030 targets above.
Finally, here’s one last graph on why the EU is setting all these targets. We’re the black line – the world is currently on track for the worst case scenarios for future global warming:”