EU poised to agree 2030 climate, energy goals; poorer nations will get help with costs - draft

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - European Union leaders are poised this month to agree three new, tougher climate and energy goals for 2030 and poorer nations will get help to shoulder the cost, according to a draft document prepared for summit talks, seen by Reuters.

The document, dated Oct. 7, showed the European Union is considering a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. It is also seeking a 30 per cent increase in energy savings compared with projected consumption and a goal to get 27 per cent of energy used from renewable sources.

"The European Council will agree on the 2030 climate and energy policy framework," the document prepared for a meeting of EU heads of government on Oct. 23-24 in Brussels said.

The three targets are ones outlined by the European Commission, the EU executive, in January this year. But the steel sector, for instance, has argued the targets could put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk and nations such as Poland, which relies on carbon-intensive coal, have said they could undermine fragile economic recovery.

EU sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, still expect that the EU leaders will reach political agreement on the three goals, paving the way for formal legislation. The draft document showed more cash would be available to help poorer member states meet the 2030 goals.

There is a high level of consensus around the 40 per cent greenhouse gas goal, the sources say. It would be binding on all 28 member states and would be the EU contribution to international efforts to agree a new U.N. deal on tackling climate change in Paris next year. But there is disagreement on how strong the other targets should be.

The document says the EU target on renewable energy should be for the EU as a whole and the same applies to the energy efficiency goal as some nations quibble over upfront costs in insulation and other technology.

The 2020 goals that the new targets will replace include binding targets on a 20 per cent emissions cut and a 20 per cent share of renewable energy, and a non-binding 20 per cent energy savings goal, which initially was not respected, but has been enforced after follow-up legislation.

While environmental campaigners say only targets binding on individual nations can be enforced, some member states are nervous the "governance system" to help ensure the EU meets all targets, mentioned in the document, could increase the powers of the European Commission. The Commission has been clear in its ambition to strengthen the single energy market as a means to reducing dependence on oil and gas from the EU's biggest supplier Russia.

The draft document also calls for improved connections across Europe to complete the single European energy market and maximise available supplies. It sets a target that cross-border links should equate to 15 per cent of a nation's power generation capacity by 2030. Maximum efforts must be focused on getting rid of energy islands, such as Portugal and Spain, whose spare energy generation goes to waste because of inadequate connections into France and then on to other parts of Europe.