New EU energy targets put bloc on course to overshoot climate goals

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - New energy saving and renewables targets adopted by the European Union on Tuesday put the bloc on course to overshoot its climate goals, the EU executive said, as it cut its projections of energy usage to account for Brexit.

FILE PHOTO: Power-generating windmill turbines are seen in Weiden, some 60 km (37 miles) east of Vienna September 5, 2010. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

Under the new rules adopted by the European Parliament on Tuesday, the EU is targeting energy savings of 32.5 percent and a renewable energy uplift of 32 percent by 2030.

That will put the bloc on course to cut emissions by 45 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 versus a target of 40 percent, the EU executive said.

“With today’s vote we unlock the true potential of Europe’s clean energy transition, helping us meet our Paris Agreement goals, translating into more jobs, lower energy bills for consumers and less energy imports,” European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said.

EU governments informally agreed to the targets in June and are expected to adopt them ahead of United Nations climate talks in Katowice, Poland next month.

National governments have until the end of 2019 to draft their own plans for reducing energy usage to keep in line with the bloc’s goals.

Planning for after Brexit, the European Commission also said on Tuesday it sees primary energy consumption for the remaining 27 nations as equivalent to 1,128 million tonnes of oil, and final energy consumption at 846 Mtoe in 2030.

That compares to a previous estimate of 1,273 Mtoe and 956 Mtoe with Britain as part of the bloc.

As one of the strongest voices on climate change and biggest economies in the EU, Britain’s exit is forcing the bloc to revise the calculations for much of its complicated patchwork of legislation aimed at reducing global warming gases.

The European Commission is due to draft its long-term plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by April.

“This is a milestone,” said Jakop Dalunde, a Green lawmaker tasked with shepherding the climate governance bill through Parliament.

The energy efficiency goal will require national governments to cut their overall energy usage by 0.8 percent every year between 2021 and 2030.

Under the new renewable energy targets, at least 14 percent of fuel in the transport sector should be from renewable sources by 2030.

It also calls for biofuels that contribute to deforestation, such as palm oil, to be phased out by the end of 2030.

Extreme temperatures across the northern hemisphere this summer have fueled concerns that climate change is gathering pace, leading some countries to call for tougher action.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Richard Lough; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel, Kirsten Donovan and Jan Harvey