We must continue to Europeanise our energy strategies – EU Energy Commissioner

24 Apr 2013

Ireland's Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD, with EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger at Dublin Castle

“We must look beyond 2020 to come to a next level of binding energy targets up to 2030 and to agree common energy and climate change policies” – these were the words of the EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who was speaking in Dublin this morning at an informal meeting of EU energy ministers.

The ministers are convening in Dublin Castle for the second day of the informal energy meetings to discuss everything from unconventional oil and gas to ICT and energy innovation, energy efficiency and the integration of variable renewable sources in Europe.

Ministers have also been sharing ideas on a Commission consultation paper, known as the Green Paper, to agree to a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies.

Unconventional oil and gas

Future Human

At a press conference this morning, Oettinger spoke about unconventional oil and gas. Looking to global energy markets, he said there is no doubt that shale gas developments are a game-changer.

He said the EU would have to develop its gas strategy with new sources and to produce more unconventional gas within the energy mix in member states.

Oettinger touched on how the European Commission could look to some expertise and legal frameworks in order to combine such unconventional gas options with the EU’s environmental issues.

Towards 2030 targets

He then turned to the EU Commission’s Green Paper. The document is under public consultation until 2 July as EU leaders have not formally agreed upon the type of climate and energy targets that should be set for 2030.

Oettinger said the process to Europeanise energy and climate change policies has been in progress for perhaps 10 years. “Our internal energy markets, regulations, our treaties and our 20-20-20 targets are the main, relevant instruments,” he said.

Known as ’20-20-20′ the EU’s key objectives for 2020 are to achieve a 20pc reduction in EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 1990 levels. This is in addition to raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20pc and achieving a 20pc improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency.

“20-20-20 means efficiency, means renewables, means CO2 emission reductions up to 2020,” said Oettinger, adding that we need to look beyond 2020 to come to a next level of binding targets up to 2030.

Common targets?

He said that while there are different positions in member states, the informal debate in Dublin between EU environment and energy ministers showed that there is an agreement to continue this European story beyond 2020 and up to 2030.

“We should develop a common strategy, common energy and climate change policies … and we should have binding targets,” said Oettinger.

The Green Paper proposes that by 2030, GHG emissions will need to be reduced by 40pc in the EU in order to reach a GHG reduction of between 80-95pc by 2050.

The paper is also proposing that 30pc of energy would need to come from renewable sources by 2030.

While it is open among ministers about the targets and at which level they should be agreed upon, Oettinger said the Dublin meeting shows there is an agreement to continue a framework beyond 2020 up to 2030.

The consultation process within member states is ongoing, but he said the general agreement is that there needs to be a strategy to Europeanise energy and climate change policies.

“No doubt member states have different energy mixes and shares, but our challenge, our ambition, is to come to agreement,” said Oettinger.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic