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New documents show that Shell successfully lobbied to weaken EU renewable energy goals for 2030.

According to new documents released under freedom of information laws, a key part of the agreement on emissions cuts reached within the EU in October 2014 was proposed by Shell in October 2011; in fact, Shell has lobbied the Barroso administration – at the time when Barroso was President of the European Commission – to discard the existing formula for linking carbon-cutting goals with binding renewable energy laws, arguing that “the EU should focus on reduction of greenhouse gases as the unique climate objective after 2020, and allow the market to identify the most cost efficient way to deliver this target, thus preserving competitiveness of industry, protecting employment and consumer buying power, to drive economic growth”. The company also maintained that a market-led strategy of gas development would save Europe €500bn in its transition to a low carbon energy system, compared to a strategy focused on renewable energies.

In October 2014, EU countries agreed that they would cut their emissions by 40% on 1990 levels by 2030, but, even though Europe as a whole pledged a 27% share for renewables in the energy mix, following Shell’s recommendations the agreement doesn’t expect individual States to achieve the same goal. Consequently, clean energy supporters declared the 2030 package a missed chance to send a signal to clean energy investors and to reassure them on the long-term reliability of the European energy market.

Shell is the sixth biggest lobbyist in the EU, and – according to participants in the 2030 negotiations – it was the first one to push for a single target in Brussels. However, it was not the strongest opponent of climate action, and is indeed considered to be the most progressive of the big fossil fuel firms; in fact, Shell supports carbon capture and storage technology and a strong emissions trading scheme (ETS), and believes that this approach – together with a focus on innovation funding – will support renewables without need for binding targets. Also, most of the company’s projects and operations are now focused on gas rather than on oil, but environmentalists still criticise its pursuit of Arctic drilling and its contribution to tar sands extraction in Canada.

The “single target” variant agreed in Brussels has been hailed by supporters of nuclear power and shale gas, and clearly favours the development of the gas industry. Gas releases about half as much carbon as coal when burned (which, however, is still 40 times more than wind over its full lifecycle), and is seen as a backup to compensate for the intermittence of renewable energy supplies and as a way to create a bridge towards a cleaner energy system.


The gLAWcal Team

POREEN project

Monday, 27 April 2015

(Source: Guardian)