Negotiations are continuing in Brussels to decide whether the EU will implement a 35 or 40 percent reduction in the continents carbon output by 2030.
The European Union is also pushing for a target for renewable energy generation but is meeting stern opposition particularly from the UK. The British government is opposed to any target for renewable energy which threatens to derail any potential agreement despite negotiations having dragged on for over two years.
However the president of the European Commission Manuel Barroso is ready to intervene to strike a compromise deal between the parties. The deal may potentially involve abandoning a renewable energy target to save an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
Studies have proved that a cut in emissions of 40 percent is possible without harming economic activity although the commission is willing to accept a 35 percent reduction. Most of the major economies of the bloc including Germany, Britain and France have agreed to the 40 percent emissions target making the chances of a deal more likely.
The previous deal on targeting emissions reduction was agreed in 1990 and runs until 2020 and has very nearly been reached. In all likelihood the targets will be exceeded by 2020 giving Europe a significantly reduced carbon output.
The strong desire from the EU to have a deal in place is down to the fact that governments around the world must publish their pledges on gas emissions cuts within the next year. All current commitments expire after 2020. The European Union wants a deal in place before the 2015 Paris conference on climate change.
The expectation in Paris is to agree a new deal on climate change and to set new binding targets for a reduction in emissions. The deal would include both developed and developing countries agreeing emissions cuts to prevent a dangerous rise in global temperatures.
Britain’s resistance to any renewable energy target for 2030 is causing the delays to the deal at this late stage of negotiations. The current agreements require that a fifth of a nations energy requirements must be fulfilled by renewable energy generation by 2020. The British government believes there should be no renewable energy target at all for 2030.
The outcome of the negotiations will have implications for the renewable energy industry across the EU. The current EU deal has helped to create a world leading renewable energy industry across the EU bloc with high levels of growth and job creation.
The UK energy secretary Ed Davy has claimed that his opposition towards a renewable energy target has support among a growing number of EU members. He cited Spain as an example although the Spanish declined to comment on his statement.
The countries that have signed up to the full agreement include Austria, Germany and Denmark. It is believed that Britain is opposed to the deal because the UK treasury favours more nuclear power and wishes to push ahead with shale gas extraction. Nuclear Power is not included as part of the deal and they are worried the deal could cause a drop off in investment in shale gas.
Green MEPs and campaigners say the deal is not tough enough and want even larger targets for emissions reduction and sustainable energy generation.