Barroso calls for end to binding EU renewables target

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If European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has his way, the European Union would do away with its green energy mandate and replace it with a voluntary system in which EU member states set their own renewable energy targets as they see fit.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday reported that Barroso is pushing for an end to EU renewable energy mandates when the current legally binding target expires in 2020.

Previous press reports have said European Commission may downgrade the binding target for a 20% share of EU energy from renewables by 2020 to a non-binding goal of a 30% share by 2030.

The EU Commission, which is expected to refrain from proposing a new target to increase energy efficiency by 2030, will likely only set a single binding climate goal – the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions — for the next decade.

According to European Voice, the Commission will propose the new strategy on Jan. 22. The move would allow countries like the U.K. and France to increase nuclear power capacity instead of renewable energy, leaving other countries, such as Germany and Denmark, to take up the slack and account for most of the EU’s renewable energy increase.

Under Barroso’s plan, the EU would have a 24% to 27% share of green energy and it would be up to individual countries to voluntarily decide how they promote renewables.

After leading the charge in climate protection, the proposed changes would mean a major turnaround for the EU. Indeed, without setting the example, the EU would also lose the power to persuade other countries to adopt climate protection measures, say critics.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also unlikely to be amused by Barroso’s stance. Sueddeutsche cited an email message between a German government official and a German representative in Brussels clearly stating how important it was for Germany to have a binding renewables goal and pointing out its necessity as an "investment signal."