Dear Connie, dear Günther

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Germany, the UK, France and Italy have sent letters to Connie Hedegaard, Climate Commissioner and Günther Oettinger, Energy Commissioner on 6 January urging the European Commission to adopt a 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030.

The European Commission will unveil a climate and energy package on 22 January in which it will announce new targets for 2030 to extend the currently existing 20-20-20 targets for 2020. These targets apply to greenhouse gas emission reductions, energy efficiency gains, and renewable energy shares. Some argue that they should be replaced by a single target for emission reductions only. On 23 December, Ministers from Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and Portugal sent the two Commissioners a letter urging them to retain a renewable energy target in addition to a reduction target. The UK by contrast favours a single target.

Now it appears that the four largest EU economies agree that, whatever the target for renewable energy will be, the EU should increase its emission reduction target from 20% in 2020 to 40% in 2030. The four countries say Europe “has a leading role to play in building momentum and rasing ambition in the lead-up to Paris 2015″, i.e. the UN Climate Conference to be held in Paris in 2015. An “ambitious greenhouse gas target of at least 40% domestic emisson reductions will be central to unlocking the tens of billions in low-carbon investment” that the EU needs, say the four Ministers.

The reference to “domestic” targets means that offsets through emission reductions outside of the EU (through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism) would not count towards the target.

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