With 66 votesin favour, 42 against and three abstentions, members of the European Parliament's Committees on the Environment (ENVI) and Energy (ITRE) have supported the inclusion of three binding objectives (reduction of greenhouse gases, or GHGs, promotion of renewable energies and energy efficiency) in the future 2030 energy-climate change strategy. By adopting a joint own-initiative report by Anne Delvaux (EPP, Belgium) from the ENVI committee and Konrad Szymanski (ECR, Poland) from ITRE, MEPs hope to influence the 2030 strategy that will be adopted by the European Commission on 22 January. The report must now be submitted to the EP's plenary assembly, most probably during its February session.
Uncertainty as to the outcome of the vote remained until the last minute, with a deep rift between supporters of the three binding objectives and those who think there should be just one goal; reducing GHGs. "It was important to continue the work begun under the 20-20-20 framework, which already contained three objectives, while learning of beginners' mistakes made in this context. Members of the two committees supported exactly this via this morning's vote," said Delvaux after the vote. She added: "It is imperative for our competitiveness and the stability of the European regulatory framework to give a clear signal to our companies. Forty percent reduction of GHGs, 30% renewable energies in the mix and 40% energy efficiency will allow investors to have a medium-term vision, which is indispensable for all economic activity".
The vote represents a victory for Delvaux, but a defeat for her co-rapporteur,aSzymanski, who has been fighting on behalf of certain Central and Eastern European countries, supported by the UK. Over the last few weeks, London has repeatedly emphasised its opposition to an objective in favour of renewable energies, calling for more flexibility in the choice of the energy mix in order that it may meet its obligations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This position was defended by the lobby for European businesses, BusinessEurope, which in a letter(1) sent the same day to the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, called for the Commission to abandon these three "overlapping" objectives and concentrate solely on reducing GHGs. BusinessEurope concedes that "appropriate" measures should be taken to promote renewables and energy efficiency, but believes that the ETS should be the only instrument used to...