The EU climate and energy policy for 2020 is summed up by three goals called 20-20-20: a) reduce GHG emissions by 20% compared to 1990; b) save 20% of the EU’s energy consumption compared to projections for 2020; c) develop a 20% share of renewable energies in overall EU energy consumption by 2020. In 2013 the EU Commission issued a Green paper to launch a debate on what should be the objectives for 2030 and early 2014 has published its proposals. This article shares the priority given in the Commission’s communication of January 2014 to the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and argues that this should be the only target set in quantitative terms. Instead, the proposal of continuing to make use of the EU-ETS, although reformed with the introduction of a reserve stability fund, is not shared. In place of this solution, it is suggested to introduce a carbon tax, to be revised (and raised) periodically, based on the reduction of GHG emissions. Its level should be such that the coal power plants without CCS become no longer competitive in a few years. A less preferable solution would be to maintain the cap-and-trade with a floor and ceiling price. The promotion of renewables certainly deserves to be continued, but without quantitative mandatory targets that are not required neither at the European level nor at the level of individual Member States. Moreover, the RES support has to avoid distorting the internal market for electricity. Instead, a common European system of promotion of renewable should be introduced, with clear and limited objectives. Finally, the increase in energy efficiency should also continue to be promoted, but without any quantitative target that would be very difficult to establish and monitor.
Keywords: European energy policy, climate policy, EU ETS, renewable energy, energy efficiency
Jel Code: Q48, Q28, Q54, Q58, H23