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MEPs endorse more ambitious EU energy efficiency and renewable sources targets

The European Parliament has endorsed committee proposals for binding EU-level targets of a 35 percent improvement in energy efficiency, a minimum 35 percent share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy, and a 12 percent share of energy from renewable sources in transport, by 2030. MEPs also voted to ban palm oil in biofuels from 2021. MEPs are now ready to negotiate binding targets with EU ministers.

The European Parliament has endorsed committee proposals for binding EU-level targets of a 35 percent improvement in energy efficiency, a minimum 35 percent share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy, and a 12 percent share of energy from renewable sources in transport, by 2030.

To meet these overall targets, EU member states are asked to set their own national targets, to be monitored and achieved in line with a draft law on the governance of the Energy Union. MEPs are now ready to negotiate binding targets with EU ministers.

The negotiations with the European Council can start immediately, as it approved its general approaches on energy efficiency on June 26, 2017, and on renewables and the governance of the Energy Union on December 18, 2017

Binding 35 percent energy efficiency target

On energy efficiency, MEPs voted in favour of a minimum 35% binding EU target and indicative national ones. This target should be considered on the basis of the projected energy consumption in 2030 according to the PRIMES model (simulating the energy consumption and the energy supply system in the EU).

The draft law on energy efficiency was approved by 485 votes to 132, with  58 abstentions.

Energy efficiency is one of the key dimensions of the EU´s energy union strategy. An ambitious policy in this area will contribute to achieving both our climate and energy goals as well as to increasing our competitiveness. It is also one of the best ways how to fight energy poverty in Europe, said Miroslav Poche (S&D, CZ), rapporteur for energy efficiency.

Binding 35 percent renewable energy target

Voting on a separate piece of legislation, adopted with 492 votes to 88 and 107 abstentions, MEPs said that the share of renewable energy should be of 35 percent of the energy consumption in the EU in 2030. National targets should also be set, from which the Member States would be allowed to deviate by a maximum of 10 percent under certain conditions.

MEPs want support schemes for renewable energy from biomass to be “designed to avoid encouraging” the unsustainable use of biomass for energy production if there are better industrial or material uses, as carbon captured in wood would be released if it were burned for heating. For energy generation, priority should be given to burning wood wastes and residues.

More advanced biofuels and EV rechargers but palm-oil out by 2021

In 2030, each Member State will have to ensure that 12 percent of the energy consumed in transport comes from renewable sources. The contribution of so-called “first generation” biofuels, derived from food and feed crops should be capped to 2017 levels, with a maximum of 7 percent in road and rail transport. MEPs also want a ban on the use of palm oil from 2021.

The share of advanced biofuels, renewable transport fuels of non-biological origin, waste-based fossil fuels and renewable electricity will have to be at least 1.5 percent in 2021, rising to 10 percent in 2030. MEPs also want high power recharging points for electric vehicles (EV) at 90 percent of fuel stations along the roads of the Trans-European Networks.

Consumer-generated power and energy communities

Parliament wants to ensure that consumers who produce electricity on their premises are entitled to consume it and install storage systems without having to pay any charges, fees or taxes. The negotiating remit for MEPs also asks the Member States to assess existing barriers to consuming energy produced on the consumer’s own premises, to promote such consumption, and to ensure that consumers, in particular, households, can join renewable energy communities without being subject to unjustified conditions or procedures.

The European Commission was too timid in its proposal. If Europe wants to fulfil its Paris commitments, to fight climate change and to lead the energy transition, we need to do more. Parliament was able to achieve a broad consensus for significantly higher 2030 targets. We also managed to reinforce self-consumption as a right, to bring security and certainty to investors, to raise the ambition for decarbonising the transport sector, as well as the heating and cooling sectors. Decarbonisation is not a drag on economic growth. On the contrary, it is the driver of competitiveness, economic activity and employment, said Jose Blanco Lopez (S&D, ES), rapporteur for renewables.

National plans and the role of the EU Commission

To deliver on the Energy Union aims, by January 1, 2019, and every ten years thereafter, each member state must notify an integrated national energy and climate plan to the EU Commission with the first plan is to cover the period from 2021 to 2030.

The Commission would assess the integrated national energy and climate plans and could make recommendations or take remedial measures if it considers that insufficient progress has been made or insufficient actions have been taken.

The resolution on the governance of the energy union was approved by 466 votes to139, with 38 abstentions.

The European Parliament has taken a historic, compliant and consistent position with the EU’s climate commitments. This is the first time that European legislation has developed, in particular, an EU 35 percent renewable energy target and a 35 percent energy efficiency target for 2030, a methane strategy, and obligations to fight against energy poverty. This policy will help develop genuine energy independence, create jobs and secure investments. In addition to being consistent, the governance proposal provides a platform for dialogue between civil society, local authorities and governments. This transparency will be necessary to deal with the lobby of energy oligopolies. One interest must prevail over all others: the future of the planet and its inhabitants, said Michele Rivasi (Greens/EFA, FR), co-rapporteur for governance.

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