The European Union has proposed a new package of carbon and renewable energy targets for 2030 that could see the introduction of a 40 per cent carbon reduction target, as well as a 30 per cent share target for renewable energy. BusinessGreen reports that policy ‘green papers’ unveiled Wednesday seek to drive EU action on carbon reduction, renewable energy development, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
The energy and climate consultation document, published in Brussels, said that while the 27-nation bloc was making “good progress” toward its 2020 goals to boost renewables and cut greenhouse gases by 20 per cent, a framework for the subsequent decade was necessary to provide investor certainty and to spur innovation and prepare for a global climate deal.
“2020 was yesterday for investors in the energy sector… and 2030 is tomorrow,” EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger told reporters on Wednesday. “We want to make sure that industry and investors will get clarity through this green paper on how we will go forward after 2020.”
Oettinger also said that a carbon target alone was not enough to achieve the EU’s climate targets, and that a renewable energy goal should also be set for 2030. “The new framework must take into account the consequences of the economic crisis, but it must also be ambitious enough to meet the necessary long-term goal of cutting emissions 80 to 95 per cent by 2050.”
Global fossil fuel subsidies clock $2 trillion a year
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has called for an end to energy subsidies, in its latest report showing global governments spend nearly $2 trillion a year to subsidise oil, natural gas, coal and electricity production. The report, released on Wednesday, shows the US as the world’s top overall fossil fuel subsidiser, with $502 billion directed to support energy industries in 2011. China comes in second, at $279 billion, Russia third at $116 billion.
According to the IMF report, fossil fuel subsidisation takes various forms, including direct support to the industries, consumer rebates and avoided taxes on pollution. And it recommends three key steps to eliminating the practice: develop a comprehensive, long-term phase-out plan; advance measures to protect the poor from higher energy prices; and consult with the public and affected stakeholders.
The report does not account for subsidies to renewable energy because, according to the IMF’s first deputy managing director David Lipton, they are generally too small to precisely measure. Lipton said it was time for the world to embrace both an end to government supports to fossil fuels and a price on carbon. “To me, the bottom line is that energy subsidisation is a major global problem, but it is a problem that can be solved,” Lipton said in a speech in Washington DC.
US energy landscape changing on Obama’s watch…
A new report published in the latest edition of the US Monthly Energy Review has shown that America’s use of renewable energy sources and natural gas has expanded rapidly during the Obama Administration’s first term while coal, nuclear power, oil imports and use, energy consumption, and CO2 emissions have all declined significantly.
Comparing data for 2008 – the last year of the George W Bush Administration – to that from 2012 – the last year of the Obama Administration’s first term – the report by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that domestic energy production from renewable energy sources like biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind grew by 23.48 per cent, with wind and solar more than doubling their output.
By comparison, total domestic energy production from all sources increased by just 8.15 per cent with domestic natural gas and crude oil production growing by 18.71 per cent and 29.47 per cent respectively. Output from nuclear power, meanwhile, declined by 4.47 per cent and domestic coal production dropped by 13.28 per cent. Total energy use declined by 4.16 per cent, petroleum consumption decreased by 6.95 per cent, and imports of crude oil and petroleum products fell by 17.32 per cent. America’s CO2 emissions dropped by 9.38 per cent.