The European Commission has announced plans for climate and energy policy to include a flagship binding target to reduce carbon emissions by 40% from 1990 levels.
Renewables will need to provide 27% of EU energy by 2030, but while the target will be binding at EU level there will be no mandatory targets for member states.
The Scottish Government welcomed the European Commission decision to introduce binding targets for 2030 for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and renewables as a ‘step in the right direction’.
Commenting on the EU 2030 framework for climate and energy, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “I welcome the 40% greenhouse gas target to maintain EU lead on climate ambition and to help encourage other major emitters to offer similar contributions to achieve a global climate agreement in 2015.
“This will give certainty to industry and unlock major new technology development in Scotland and across the EU.
“Scotland wants to see renewables target that are as ambitious as possible to deliver maximum economic benefit and without adding to the cost burden for consumers. As Scotland is the renewable powerhouse of Europe, ambitious targets can help to unlock the potential of the industry and create jobs far into the future.
“Scotland currently hosts 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resources but only with a 2030 EU renewable target can we give the sector and consumers further certainty.”
Prof Roger Kemp, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), commented: “While we already have our own UK carbon reduction and renewables targets, for 2020 and 2050, the new EU targets are useful as they put a peg in the ground for what we want to achieve in the interim between the two UK target dates.
“This should help us and other EU nations to justify investing money in carbon reduction measures and technologies.
“For the UK, the proposed EU 40% reduction in carbon emissions and 27% increase in renewables is a big challenge.
“The lowest cost, but not always the easiest, carbon savings come from avoiding energy use and using energy more efficiently. This change will rebalance policy more in this direction.”
Reacting to the announcement of European targets for climate change and energy Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “On climate change, Europe is aiming to achieve less by 2030 than Scotland plans for 2020. A 40% target is far short of what is needed to ensure the world avoids disastrous climate change. The EU has set a weak renewable energy target that is not even binding on countries.
“Scotland is on track to meet all our needs from renewable energy by 2020 and to export power made from our huge natural resources of wind, wave and tidal energy. Weak targets in Europe will mean slow development of the green energy market, but Scotland can and must continue to be a pioneer of renewable energy technologies.”