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UK and Czech Republic call for ‘light touch’ on EU climate goals

A leaked document has revealed that the UK and the Czech Republic want the EU to adopt a “light touch governance system” towards the bloc’s 2030 climate and energy targets.

The two countries have urged the European Commission to develop proposals for a governance system that focuses on the EU’s collective progress towards its energy goals, which would allow national governments to supervise themselves on achieving the targets.

The document – published by blogger Alice Stollmeyer, an “influential Twitterer” on EU energy and climate policies – also asks the EC to support investment in nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The October 2014 Council Conclusions stated that government leaders had agreed in Brussels that the EU would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, when compared with 1990.

It set a target of at least 27% for improving energy efficiencies by 2030.

With regards to governance, it was decided that the governance system would build on existing building blocks such as national climate programmes, national plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The UK and Czech Republic have called for the EC to “respect member state flexibility over its choice of measures and technologies” and to not discriminate against or in favour of specific low carbon technologies or restrict member states’ energy choices.

WWF-UK head of energy and climate change policy Emma Pinchbeck told H&V News: “Experience has shown that a light-touch approach to tackling climate is unlikely to work. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that we need to cap carbon emissions before 2020, global carbon emissions continue to rise.

“The UK has consistently shown leadership on climate change. Targets are important, and we would call on government to continue to support a strong legal framework for the EU 2030 emission targets that will ensure good governance of the delivery of vital climate change agreements.

“Clear and stable legal frameworks also provide a clear sense of direction for the business community, supporting market creation and, in turn, reducing risks for investors. Without a light-touch approach, the government could miss out on the proven economic gains from pursuing ambitious energy and climate change policy.”

A Department for Energy & Climate Change spokesperson said: “By building alliances and working constructively with our EU partners, we agreed last year an ambitious 2030 climate and energy package keeping the EU on track to meet its 2050 climate goals and setting a high benchmark for other countries ahead of the critical Paris climate summit later this year.

“The UK wants the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 to be fully enforceable under EU law. But unlike some others, the UK wants the new governance framework to ensure that all 28 EU member states have a credible and coherent plan to decarbonise their entire economies using all of the low-carbon technologies at their disposal.

“The reality is that few member states have a serious long-term decarbonisation plan in place, like the UK’s Climate Change Act and five-yearly carbon plans. Our governance framework proposals will, for the first time, mean that every EU country has a similar serious national plan to achieve their legally binding greenhouse gas targets to 2030, and keep the EU on track to meet its 2050 climate goals.”

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