New EU renewable energy targets – why this is muddled thinking

Jan 3, 2014 | Energy and Carbon, Environment, News | 0 comments

Taking Europe wide action to reduce CO2 emissions is an essential step given the link between emissions and global warming. However, as always the EU is wrangling on how to do it. It appears that the majority of EU states want to do reduce CO2 emission by just setting renewable energy targets, with two states opposed.

However, setting a renewable energy target may not be the most cost effective way of reducing emissions. Why?

There are many possible ways to reduce CO2 emissions, these include improving domestic and business sector energy efficiency, moving towards alternative transport fuels (e.g hydrogen, electric), improving transport efficiency (e.g. setting more demanding fuel efficiency standards for vehicles). moving long haul freight off roads to rail, improved urban planning (e.g. denser housing levels, siting developments next to public transport links), increasing nuclear build and of course also greater use of renewables.

This is a long list and there are costs, benefits and disadvantages to each method. Just mandating one of these options (i.e. renewable) and setting a target may preclude other more effective options from being followed. Instead by setting a CO2 emission reduction target, states can have the flexibility to follow the most advantageous path and still achieve the desired end.

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