MEPs adopt Energy Union rules

EPA-EFE/JOEL ESTAY

A view of the Torres del Pine national park, where the Grey glacier suffered a rupture, in Magallanes, Chile, November 29, 2017. MEPs said on December 7 that the 2030 climate objectives - renewable energies and energy efficiency - will have to be aligned with a Union carbon budget and a long-term climate and energy strategy.

EU-level safeguard to ensure consistency with the Paris Agreement


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On December 7, the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the Environment (ENVI) Committees voted on rules regulating the working mechanisms of the Energy Union project. The report was adopted by 61 votes in favour, 46 against and nine abstentions. The Governance of the Energy Union file sets a framework for Member States to operate and is part of the “Clean Energy for all Europeans” legislative package, according to the European Parliament.

“The Governance Regulation is the incorporation of the Paris Agreement into EU law,” Greens/EFA Luxembourgish MEP Claude Turmes, co-rapporteur for ITRE committee said, adding that the EU and Member States need to set energy and climate objectives, notably for 2030, in line with the EU’s fair share of the global carbon budget and consistent with one another. “A transparent, inclusive, multi-level governance is key to achieve the 2050 vision of a net-zero carbon economy, involving local authorities, civil society and citizens,” Turmes said.

Greens/EFA MEP Michèle Rivasi from France, co-rapporteur for the ENVI committee, noted that this regulation would act as a EU-level safeguard to ensure consistency with the Paris Agreement. “The report calls for a proper carbon budget to be approved for the European Union. The aim is to account for the maximum quantity of greenhouse gas that the EU can still emit, to enable us to live in a world where climate warming is limited to 1.5°C, or 2°C at most, by the end of the century,” Rivasi said, adding that for the first time, the 2030 climate objectives – renewable energies and energy efficiency – will have to be aligned with a Union carbon budget and a long-term climate and energy strategy. “National climate and energy plans for 2030 will have to aim to achieve zero net emissions and a highly efficient and renewable energy economy by 2050 at the latest,” she added.

MEPs asked the member states to assess in their national energy and climate plans the number of households in energy poverty, and outline existing and planned policies and measures addressing energy poverty, including social policy measures and other relevant national programmes. In cases of significant number of households in energy poverty, a national indicative objective to reduce energy poverty should be included in the plan, they further asked, the European Parliament said.

In their amendments, MEPs asked the member states to submit their first integrated national energy and climate plan by June 2019 at the latest, a second one by January 2024 and subsequent plans with more ambitious objectives covering a ten year period of action every five years after that.

In order to meet the targets, objectives and contributions set out in these plans, MEPs asked the member states to cooperate with each other at regional level or macro-regional. In this respect, at least two member states will be able to engage in macro-regional partnership cooperation on renewable energy projects of Energy Union interest (RPEI), with a significant cross-border impact, said MEPs in their amendments. The Commission will establish a list of RPEI by 31 December 2020, which will be eligible for Union financial support in the form of grants, loans, equity, financial instruments and guarantee funds.

Moreover, the member states and the Commission should prepare by January 1, 2019, and every five years thereafter their long-term climate and energy strategies with a 30 years perspective, MEPs said.

The Commission will assess the integrated national energy and climate plans, and it can make recommendations or take remedy measures when it considers that insufficient progress was made or insufficient actions were taken.

The legislative resolution will be voted on by the full Parliament during the January plenary session to give MEPs the mandate to start negotiations with EU governments.

British MEP Theresa Griffin, S&D spokesperson on this file in the industry and energy committee, said:  “After crucial wins on Energy Efficiency and Renewables last week, today a progressive framework to enact these achievements was secured. This includes meeting the Energy Union’s 2030 energy and climate objectives, whilst developing Integrated National Energy and Climate plans that cover the five dimensions of the Energy Union.”

“More importantly, the Parliament reaffirmed its commitment to tackling energy poverty. This text includes a clear definition on energy poverty and guidelines for member states to report on those suffering from energy poverty. Furthermore, amendments on a Just Transition fund were secured, ensuring that workers in heavy carbon industries are provided with the skills and training necessary to access jobs in the clean energy economy,” Griffin said.

Portuguese MEP Carlos Zorrinho, S&D spokesperson on this file in the environment committee, said: “The vote today is an important step forward in the implementation of a European energy policy of decarbonisation with a strong focus on clean energy, renewables, energy efficiency and interconnections. The fight against energy poverty and for a Just Transition fund for all citizens has been fortified and conditions have been created to improve the quality of life of European citizens.”

“Furthermore, the targets and objectives approved provide a strong incentive to modernise industry and services in the European Union, making the most of the energy transition and the digital revolution,” Zorrinho added.

In reaction to the results of the vote, Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe, noted that reducing emissions to zero by 2050 at the latest is an imperative to deliver on the EU’s Paris Agreement commitments. “Today’s vote proves that the Parliament understands the urgency of drastically increasing climate action. The vote adds momentum for scaling up emission cuts in the EU. Member States must stop dragging their feet and raise the level of ambition of all energy and climate targets and policies in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Trio said.

Alex Mason, Senior Policy Officer at the WWF European Policy Office said it’s excellent to see so many MEPs taking the Paris Agreement seriously, and committing to the EU being carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest. “This sends a clear signal to investors that when it comes to the low carbon economy the EU means business. Let’s hope the Member States show the same resolve at the Energy Council on 18 December,” Mason said.

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