The European Commission (EC) has proposed increasing its 2030 target for emission reductions to at least 55%, with president Ursula von der Leyen claiming the higher target would help the bloc in meeting its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Its previous target was to reduce emissions by 40% from 1990 levels, but the commission may now increase this to 55% following a consultation.
Von der Leyen announced the new proposal in her first State of the European Union address as EC president, describing it as “ambitious, achievable and beneficial for Europe”.
She told a European Parliament plenary session the Commission’s impact assessment suggests the European economy can manage this, and that the target would set the EU firmly on track for climate neutrality by 2050.
The European wind power industry broadly welcomed the raised target, but called for policy fixes to enable it to help reach the goal, while some lobbying groups called for even greater increases in ambition.
WindEurope welcomed the higher emission reduction target and said the wind power industry is “ready to deliver, from a technology and cost point of view”. However, it warned that it would be unachievable without solving permitting bottlenecks for wind farms.
And German energy and water group BDEW’s chair Kerstin Andreae warned that the increased target could only be met with the right framework conditions.
The rollout of renewables and expansion of the grid need to happen faster, she added, and called for the creation of a European hydrogen market and stronger sector coupling.
Danish turbine manufacturer Vestas welcomed the increased ambition and described the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic recession as an opportunity to invest in a sustainable recovery and spur growth in renewable energy.
Meanwhile, CEO of Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, Ignacio Galán, said that “we have the technologies, the innovative companies, an enormous capacity to respond to new projects and the necessary renewable resources” to meet the increased ambition.
However, green lobbying group Greenpeace claimed the target did not go far enough, and called for a 65% goal, while its policy adviser, Sebastian Mang, warned that the 55% target “would condemn us to a devastating climate crisis”.
Von der Leyen’s announcement came after nearly 170 business leaders and investors – including the heads of Danish developer Ørsted, Spanish-German manufacturer Siemens Gamesa, and Swedish energy firm Vattenfall – wrote to the EC president calling on Europe to set a 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 55%.