In October, as UN climate negotiators met in Bonn, Germany, EU heads of state and government adopted a new climate and energy framework for the 28-nation bloc to govern the period up to 2030. The framework offers important new directions for the medium term by outlining three major EU-wide targets for 2030: a 40% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target compared to 1990 levels; a 27% target for renewable energy; and a 27% indicative target for energy efficiency improvements. However, while the agreement on the proposed framework can be viewed as a necessary step forward for EU climate policy and the bloc’s credibility in the international climate talks, some key questions remain unanswered.

The adoption of the framework also needs to be viewed in the context of several developments in international politics and governance. First, the EU’s climate policies have been crafted with one eye on the ongoing UN climate negotiations towards a global emissions cutting deal. The framework’s announcement can be viewed as one of the opening bids by a major player in these talks – in economic terms the bloc accounts for 24% of global GDP – in the run-up to the pivotal UN climate summit due to be held next year in Paris, France.

Second, the EU’s policy package is drawn up against the background of mounting energy security concerns. The dramatic events that unfolded in Ukraine this year have raised questions about the continuing reliance by some member states on Russian natural gas exports. The new framework offered an opportunity to eventually reduce dependence on Russian gas by promoting renewable energy and boosting energy efficiency. At the same time, uncertainties related to gas supply led some member states to push harder for more flexibility to continue to invest in fossil fuels, including coal, liquefied natural gas, and shale gas.

Source: BIORES, Switzerland