Important decisions on future EU energy and climate policy ahead

Next week, on 22 January, the European Commission is expected to release its energy-climate package post-2020 in which it will set out the future policy framework to decarbonise the European economy going towards 2030.

Important elements of the policy framework and its overall level of ambition remain under debate. Decisions taken on the post-2020 framework will have far-reaching implications across a variety of sectors and policies. At the moment, a framework with an energy efficiency target and binding greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and renewable energy targets appears at risk of being consolidated into a single GHG reduction target. The consequences of this would likely result in an uncertain future for the EU’s renewables sector and other low-carbon technologies. It is doubtful that the level of investments in such technologies will be reached in order to ensure the timely transition to a low-carbon economy.

In particular transport related emissions are rising rapidly and now account for more than 25 per cent of EU total GHG emissions. By 2020, transport will be the largest source of CO2 emissions in the EU, overtaking those from the power and heating sectors. A parallel discussion is underway on the future of the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), the central EU policy tool for decarbonising fuels. Today, 17 January, a letter signed by fourteen organisations was sent to the Commission’s President José Manuel Barroso, Secretary-General Catherine Day and other Commissioners to ensure that the FQD will be maintained in the post-2020 framework.

The Fuel Quality Directive and its six per cent decarbonisation target is a crucial instrument to keep GHG emissions from transport under control. Support for this piece of legislation in the post-2020 framework is needed to ensure the EU’s credibility on climate change. The technology-neutral target rewards the best-GHG-performing fuels, drives innovation, investments and creates jobs. Furthermore, the FQD creates a level-playing field for all transport fuels, offers more cost-effective GHG reduction options and can play an important role in promoting truly sustainable biofuels in a 2030 climate and energy framework.