Twelve days after the end of COP 22, the EU released the long-awaited “Winter Package “Clean Energy for all Europeans”. Throughout the Marrakesh talks, the EU delegation promoted its energy and climate targets for 2030 as being ambitious. How is the Winter Package  living up to the EU COP 22 rethoric?

According to the Climate Action Tracker, an independent science-based assessment, which tracks the emission commitments and actions of countries and  provides an up-to-date assessment of individual national pledges, targets and  Intendend National Determined contributions (INDC),  “the (EU) current policies are projected to reduce emissions by 34–40% below 1990 levels by 2030. This puts the EU on a trajectory close to meeting its 2030 NDC target of a 40% reduction by 2030 from 1990 levels. However, this target is not consistent with limiting warming to below 2°C, let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit and represents a slight slowdown in the rate of climate action compared to the preceding quarter-century—at exactly the time when there needs to be a threefold acceleration.”

The EU NDC is  based on 2030 climate and energy framework targets: 40% reduction in GHG emissions; 27% share of renewable electricity; and a minimum of 27% improvement in energy efficiency. The new proposal does not propose any significant readjustments of these targets. The most important shift is the change in a minimum of energy efficiency going up 3%, as a new target of 30%.

Some of the most significant issues in the package are the proposal of limits to priority access and dispatch for renewables. Priority access and dispatch will remain only for generating installations with an installed capacity of less than 250kW, or of less than 125 kW from 2026. The package does not impose national binding targets for renewables; but introduces so called capacity mechanisms that could be used for fossil fuel subsidies. Capacity mechanisms cover “… all the arrangements by which Member States pay electricity generators (and occasionally consumers) extra to keep plants open or build new ones (or change consumption patterns) with the explicit goal of security of electricity supply.

On December 19 the EU Council also failed to reach agreement on carbon market reforms, seen as necessary to live up to the Paris COP 21 Agreement. Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden backed the Parliament’s current position (decided on December 14) of a 2.4% reduction per year, with 57% of allowances auctioned. Other member states, particularly in Eastern Europe, want a slower reduction rate and lower number of allowances to be auctioned – a proposal heartily backed by the steel industry.

foto: courtesy Enel,  palazzo al carbone Genova