* Vote fuels debate of member states in March, June
* Environmentalists welcome parliamentary vote
* No law expected until new set of EU officials
By Barbara Lewis and Ben Garside
BRUSSELS/LONDON, Feb 5 Members of the European
Parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of three climate and
energy targets for 2030, rebuffing a Commission plan for just
one fully binding goal.
The vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France,
has no legal force, but stokes debate before summit talks
between European Union leaders in March on energy and
environment policy and its impact on competitiveness.
It endorses fully binding goals for cutting climate
emissions, improving energy efficiency and forcing member states
to increase the amount of renewable energy they use.
The European Commission, the EU executive, in January
presented its views on 2030 policy, calling for one fully
binding goal to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2030 as well as a
weaker EU-wide target on green energy, which would not oblige
individual nations to act.
That would give member states more freedom to decide how
they meet the emission goal, for instance by opting to build
carbon-free nuclear plants or bury emissions underground rather
than subsidising the installation of new wind or solar power
At the time, environmentalists criticised the Commission for
listening to industry and lacking ambition, especially when the
European Union has already nearly met a 2020 goal of cutting
greenhouse gases by 20 percent compared with 1990.
They welcomed Wednesday's vote, as did Climate Commissioner
Connie Hedegaard, even though it clashed with the Commission's
It sent "a clear signal to EU governments to support a 40
percent greenhouse gas target", her official Twitter feed said.
Whatever Europe decides will have a major influence on the
international debate. Developing nations say the developed world
must take on a big share of the work of cutting global emissions
as part of a new U.N. deal on tackling climate change, expected
to be agreed next year.
The Commission hopes that summit debate in March, followed
by further summit talks in June, will produce political
agreement on 2030 policy, but has said it does not expect to
produce a formal legislative proposal until after parliamentary
elections in May and a changeover of Commissioners later this
Within business, there are many shades of opinion. The
renewables industry argues a mandatory target on how much green
energy EU member states should use is essential.
Ninety European associations and companies, including Alstom
, Dong Energy and Acciona have
written an open letter calling for a legally binding target for
Utilities, such as Germany's E.ON, favour a
single binding target on cutting carbon emissions, which they
say is the most effective way to ensure a stronger carbon market
that will engineer a shift away from coal, the most polluting
form of power generation.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)