EU needs to set renewable energy targets for 2020, EEA head says

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Press Release Published 03 Jun 2004 Last modified 28 Jun 2016
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The European Union needs to set renewable energy targets for 2020 to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and give energy markets long-term investment security, Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA), said today.


Copenhagen/Bonn, 3 June 2004

EU needs to set renewable energy targets for 2020, EEA head says

The European Union needs to set renewable energy targets for 2020 to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and give energy markets long-term investment security, Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA, said today.

"Lack of security for investors in renewables could lead to delays in retiring older fossil-fuel power stations, making it more difficult in turn for the EU to meet its commitments to cut emissions that are contributing to climate change," Prof. McGlade said in a speech at the International Conference for Renewable Energies taking place in Bonn, Germany.

She continued: "Renewable energy sources can play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and securing energy supply. These benefits are reflected in the indicative EU renewable energy targets for 2010."

Prof. McGlade said, however, that the 2010 targets "will not be met at current levels of political and financial support." But, she added, "the sheer fact of having targets has brought us to higher levels of renewables than otherwise would have been the case. I do believe this is an important positive message for us to take away."

The European Environment Agency would be examining a set of renewable energy targets for 2020 from an environmental perspective to support Europe's policy makers, she said.

At the conference Prof. McGlade presented a new study on energy subsidies commissioned by the EEA.

The study estimates that the EU and the governments of its 15 older Member States together provide 5.3 billion Euros a year in subsidies to renewables. This amounts to just over one-sixth of the total volume of subsidies given annually to the energy sector, which is estimated at 29.2 billion Euros, equivalent to 0.4% of gross domestic product.

Fossil fuel production and consumption receive much greater subsidies than renewables -- an estimated 21.7 billion Euros, or over two-thirds of the total.

"From an environmental perspective, the level of support to fossil fuels remains high," Prof. McGlade commented. "Support for renewable energy is, however, increasing steadily and is now significantly higher on a per unit of energy basis than for other fuels."

"In this regard the EU-15 states seem to have recognised that renewable energy is a much less mature industry with a greater need for technological and market support."

Prof. McGlade pointed out that the EU was committed to moving away from environmentally harmful subsidies. For this to happen, however, agreement was needed on what constitutes an energy subsidy. A harmonised framework for reporting on such subsidies was also required since consistent subsidy data are not available, she said.

The full text of Prof. McGlade's speech is available at

The report on energy subsidies is available at

Briefing on energy subsidies and renewables is available at

Notes to Editors

  • The 15 older EU Member States have agreed on indicative national renewables targets aimed at giving renewables a 22% share of EU electricity production and a 12% share of overall energy consumption by 2010.

  • A Communication issued by the European Commission on 26 May concludes that renewables' share of electricity production will reach only 18-19% by 2010 on the basis of existing policies and measures carried out by the Member States, while renewables' share of overall energy consumption will reach at best 10% on the basis of legislation adopted so far. The Commission underlined the need for Member States to step up efforts to reach the targets and announced its intention to bring forward additional EU measures to ensure the targets are met.

  • The European Parliament and various stakeholders have proposed the enlarged EU of 25 Member States should set a 20% target for renewables' share of overall energy consumption for 2020. The European Commission says it will review this at the latest by 2005 and start a process for setting a target for the post-2010 period in 2007.

  • The International Conference for Renewable Energies Bonn 2004 is the first major follow-up conference on renewables since the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August-September 2002. Further information at

About the EEA

The European Environment Agency is the leading public body in Europe dedicated to providing sound, independent information on the environment to policy-makers and the public. Operational in Copenhagen since 1994, the EEA is the hub of the European environment information and observation network (Eionet), a network of around 300 bodies across Europe through which it collects and disseminates environment-related data and information. An EU body, the Agency is open to all nations that share its objectives. It currently has 31 member countries: the 25 EU Member States, three EU candidate countries - Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey - and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Membership negotiations are under way with Switzerland.

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