DEAUVILLE France (Reuters) - EU leaders are likely to agree a new decade of climate and energy policy next week despite the “legitimate concerns” of several nations, Europe’s climate boss said on Thursday.
European Union leaders have set themselves a deadline of the end of October to agree on green energy goals for 2030 to follow on from 2020 policy.
Provided they agree, the EU will be the first major bloc to set out its position ahead of a U.N. conference in Paris in 2015 to negotiate an international pact on curbing global warming.
“There should not be problems that could not be overcome,” European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Deauville, northern France.
“It should be feasible to agree on a 40 percent domestic greenhouse gas target and a very strong signal on efficiency and renewables,” she said.
“A lot of details will follow, but then we will have the skeleton on which we can build.”
If the EU leaders do not agree, Hedegaard said they would be responsible for destroying momentum toward a new global deal, which she said would still be “tremendously difficult” to reach.
Looking back to the failed Copenhagen U.N. summit in 2009, Hedegaard said the U.N. Paris conference was “going to be yet another nightmare but hopefully this time it could end well” as the United States and China edge toward action and pressure from citizens demanding change builds.
The European Commission, the EU executive, has outlined three targets for 2030 - to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent versus 1990 levels, to improve energy efficiency to 30 percent compared with business as usual and to increase the share of renewable energy in the mix to 27 percent.
Poland, which depends on coal for most of its energy, has been prominent in complaining about the cost of increasing the emissions cutting target to 40 percent from a 20 percent goal for 2020.
Other EU states also have “legitimate concerns,” Hedegaard said.
A briefing paper, seen by Reuters, prepared ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 23-24, showed Britain had concerns about increasing energy efficiency, while Germany said a deal should not be done at any price.
For Hedegaard, energy efficiency is the most logical step, especially as the crisis between Russia and Ukraine focuses the EU on the need to reduce dependency on imported Russian gas.
Environment campaigners say Britain’s issue with energy saving is partly because it has committed to a major investment in nuclear power, which needs high demand to justify it.
The European Commission earlier this month approved Britain’s plans to finance the new nuclear plant to be built at Hinkley Point in southwest England and operated by French utility EDF. (EDF.PA)
EDF will receive a guaranteed power price of 92.50 pounds($149) per megawatt-hour for 35 years, more than twice the current market rate.
Hedegaard was one of five out of 28 commissioners who voted against the Commission’s approval.
“It’s no secret that I was not in favor of that decision,” Hedegaard said. “I just think at a time when we are heading toward a system where we want subsidies for renewables to be cut, it is not the right signal,” she said. “I would also be concerned about prices for the energy consumers in Britain.”
(1 US dollar = 0.6217 British pound)
Editing by Robin Pomeroy