On Monday 26th June 2017, EU ministers met for talks aimed at reaching a compromise on energy saving targets after 2021. This represents the first hurdle toward implementing the Paris Agreement for lower carbon emissions and limiting climate change. The agreement seeks to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions by the second half of the century and limit global warming to 1.5%.

The European Union has vowed to take over international leadership on climate after United States President, Donald Trump, withdrew America’s support for the Paris Agreement earlier this month. The meeting in Luxembourg continued for many hours as EU nations were divided between those seeking more ambitious targets and those wanting more flexibility in calculating energy savings.

The European Commission proposed a binding overall 30% energy efficiency target with annual savings targets of 1.5% until 2030. The compromise involved removing the word ‘’binding’ from the agreement. The current draft saw opposition from Great Britain and some Central and Eastern European states.

Aside from any environmental benefits, the EU estimates that the target will create around 400,000 jobs, increase EU economic output by 70 billion euros and reduce reliance on gas imports by up to 12%. The expectation is that the targets will be reached by improving insulation and the energy consumption of buildings, greater efficiency in consumer goods and introducing smart meters to measure and manage usage.

Before becoming law, the EU proposals will be examined and passed with the European Parliament in the coming months. The compromise is disappointing and falls short of the level of ambition of the European Commission’s proposal. By removing the ‘binding’ requirement on nations to comply, it is feared this will damage the EU’s resolve to lead the way for climate change action on the international stage.

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