Spain, Italy shift renewable talks
There is obvious excitement in Brussels that two political crises in southern Europe could alter the balance and increase strategic targets over the next 12 years.
EU energy ministers met in Luxembourg yesterday (Monday) to debate regulations that will set targets for renewables and energy efficiency.
With targets set to be finalised in the next few weeks, the new administrations in Spain and Italy joined a coalition of more progressive member states. Both countries have seen growing interest and investment in renewables in recent years.
The European Council, representing member states, reportedly currently wants energy efficiency to improve from 30-33 per cent by 2030 and the renewable share to reach 30-33 per cent. But Spain and Italy now join France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden and Portugal in pushing for the higher end of the targets. The member states would now have the numbers to block a target they consider insufficient, bringing the council closer to an agreement with the more progressive European Parliament, which has demanded renewable and efficiency targets of 35 per cent.
In January, MEPs approved its proposal submitted by its Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) for a 35-per-cent renewable target, while the council responded with a flexible target of up to 32-33 per cent.
Bulgaria is purportedly keen to reach a deal before the rotating presidency passes to Austria at the end of June.
“It is clear some countries are moving towards more ambitious figures,” EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete told a Brussels press conference.
Cañete has said that there are four groups within the bloc: the 35-per-cent group; a group of member states aiming for a target over 30 per cent but “far away from 35 per cent”; those after 30 per cent; and another bloc wanting even lower thresholds.
On Wednesday the council would begin a three-way “trialogue” negotiation with the parliament and pro-renewable European Commission over the targets.
“The meeting this morning was much more positive than it used to be, especially on high ambition,” said Quentin Genard, an energy specialist at the think-tank E3G. “Spain and Italy have shifted gear.
“Germany used to be clearly a leader on these issues, but with the new government in place… we were expecting them to be much stronger.”
Spain is increasingly investing in renewables. Picture credit: Flickr