Getting 2030 climate and energy policy to add up

Reduced energy consumption (by renovating buildings, for example, and by increasing transport and industrial efficiency) is a precondition for meeting the EU’s mid- to long-term emission reduction objectives, according to the European Commission’s ‘Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050’. [1] Similarly, all decarbonisation scenarios in the Commission’s ‘Energy Roadmap 2050’ rely on a very significant increase in the share of renewable energies. [2]  Backing energy savings and renewable energies will also bring us enormous benefits in terms of quality of life, job creation, energy security and economic stability. 

This is why, as well as setting a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2030 in line with science and equity, the EU must also support ambitious targets for energy savings and renewables.

Explicitly requiring emissions cuts to be made through energy savings and the development of renewable energies will help ensure that reductions are achieved in Europe rather than elsewhere. This is important because the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the EU’s ‘Effort Sharing’ policy, which covers non-ETS sector emissions, allow up to 50% [3] and 100% [4] respectively of required emission cuts to be met outside the EU through the international Clean Development Mechanism. The effectiveness of these ‘offset’ reductions is highly questionable: it is, for example, possible to credit investment in Chinese coal plants as emission ‘cuts’. [5] In addition, carbon offsetting is causing significant social and ecological problems across the world. [6]

Strong 2030 legislation for energy savings and renewable energies will also help counter the failures of the ETS. The EU cannot rely on a market-based approach: volatile and unpredictable carbon prices will not ensure a transition to a safe, sustainable and affordable energy system. [7] 

Targets for energy savings and renewables must be legally binding. Experience shows that, when it comes to climate and energy policy, change doesn’t happen without binding targets. [8]




[1] European Commission (2011), ‘roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy in 2050’, page 5,

[2] European Commission (2011), ‘energy roadmap 2050’, page 8,

[3] See the European Commission’s F.A.Q. section on the ETS question 20 :

[4] Estimate based derived from European Commission data on emission reduction requirements under the Effort Sharing Decision (, authorised levels of offsetting in the Effort Sharing Decision (question 5 and 2005 greenhouse gas emissions data provided by the European Environmental Agency (

[5]  Following a decision by the CDM executive board - see meeting report under 81(g):

[6] Friends of the Earth (2009), ‘Dangerous Distractions’:

[7] Complementary policies to the ETS are needed. See for the example the IEA report ‘Summing up the parts’:

[8] The European Council agreed on a voluntary 20% by 2020 energy savings target. In March 2011, the European Commission estimated the EU was ‘on course to achieve only half of the 20% objective’: Energy Efficiency Plan, page 2,