On Thursday, there were two significant updates to European climate policy. In order to tackle climate change and reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuels, the European Union achieved a tentative agreement to raise its renewable energy goals. Announcing "an energy revolution," the UK also unveiled its long-awaited climate strategy.
EU Promises to Boost Renewable Energy
The 27-nation bloc will commit to obtaining 42.5% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, with a potential increase to 45%, according to an agreement reached by representatives of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
The current goal of the European Union is to use 32% renewable energy by 2030.
The union obtained 22% of its energy from renewable sources in 2021, albeit the percentage varied greatly among the nations. While renewable energy sources account for less than 13% of total energy use in Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, and Ireland, Sweden tops the world with a 63% share.
If the European Union is to achieve its climate goals, which include a legally required target to reduce levels of planet-heating gases by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030, a swift transition to renewable energy is essential.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, renewable energy goals have increased importance. By 2027, the European Union has committed to stop relying on Russian fossil fuels, and it intends to achieve so primarily through the use of low-carbon energy that is produced close to home.
Massive investments in wind and solar farms, increased production of renewable gases, and improved integration of clean energy into Europe's power networks are all necessary for the new goals to be met.
If EU nations are to stop relying on Russian fossil fuels, the European Commission estimates that additional investments in hydrogen infrastructure and renewable energy will need to total 113 billion euros ($123 billion) by 2030.
To become law, Thursday's agreement needs to be approved by the EU's member states and the European Parliament, which is usually a formality.
UK Climate Policy
On Thursday, the UK also unveiled its own climate strategy. The strategy lays out a roadmap for the country to achieve net zero, which entails removing from the atmosphere at least as much pollution that warms the earth as it produces.
With the invasion of Ukraine, the policy focuses on clean energy technologies and energy security.
Support is provided for nuclear technology, home insulation, home heat pumps, electric vehicles, green hydrogen, and offshore wind energy.
In order to trap and store carbon pollution, the approach also places a strong emphasis on carbon capture and storage. The technology has come under fire for allowing polluters to keep polluting rather than reducing their emissions, even though many experts believe it will be essential for achieving climate targets.
"Transforming our energy system is no longer simply about combating climate change; it is now a question of national security," UK Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said in a statement. We must hasten the transition to cleaner, less expensive, domestic energy if we are to safeguard ourselves from future price increases.
Since a UK court found that the government had not sufficiently explained how it intended to reach net zero, the strategy was announced this year.
It also comes after the Inflation Reduction Act of the Biden administration, the largest climate investment in US history that sparked a scramble for global green subsidies.
The UK government's new plans have drawn criticism for being inadequate. They are "tinkering about the edges but are far off the mark given the enormity of the crisis we face," Oxfam's head of policy Pauline Chetcuti said in a statement.