EU Increases Climate Commitment

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By S. Solberg J. ([1]) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of October European Union Leaders agreed to a 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy PoliciesThe EU committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40% below the 1990 level by 2030.  This new goal doubles the previous commitment of a 20% reduction by 2020; and keeps the EU on pace to meet their 2050 goal of at least an 80% reduction in GHG emissions.  In comparison, President Obama’s 2013 Climate Change Action Plan has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 17% below the 2005 level by 2020.

The new EU GHG reduction goal will be met, in part, by lowering the cap in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).  EU ETS is a cap and trade system that operates across the 28 member states and covers about 45% of EU emissions from power generation and manufacturing.  The remainder of the reduction will come from sectors that fall outside of the EU ETS; targets will be set for individual member states, which have flexibility in how reductions are achieved.

The UK Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is one example of an EU member country strategy to reduce GHG emissions outside of the EU ETS.  ESOS is a mandatory energy assessment scheme implemented by the UK Environment Agency that requires organizations meeting the definition of a large undertaking to complete an ESOS assessment at least once every 4 years.  The ESOS assessment must cover building, process, and transportation energy use; and should identify practical and cost effective energy saving opportunities.  The difficulty for many organizations will be collecting the required 12 months of continuous data that accounts for at least 90% of energy use.  The deadline for UK companies to conduct the first ESOS assessment is December 5, 2015; so, companies still have time to begin collecting data.

In related news the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Synthesis Report was released just four days ago on November 1 and provides support for the EU’s GHG emission reduction activities.  The report restates that human influence on a warming climate system is unequivocal, and

Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming
and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system,
increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts
for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require
substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which,
together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.

The report will inform the next round of UN climate talks in Paris in 2015 where 200 governments will again try to reach consensus on an international agreement to combat climate change.