Two key committees of the European Parliament have indicated their support for ambitious 2030 climate and energy targets in the European Union.

MEPs of the energy and industry, and environment committees have voted in favour of setting binding targets for renewable energy, greenhouse gases and energy efficiency.

The vote follows recent calls from the heads of several EU member states to set clear and ambitious 2030 goals and will reinvigorate the debate over climate and energy as the European Commission prepares to outline its policy for 2030 targets.

While Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy and Portugal want the Commission to set 2030 goals for renewable energy as well as greenhouse gas emissions, other countries, including the UK, want only a greenhouse gas emission target.

The 2030 goals would follow up the 2020 goals for climate and energy that were agreed in 2009 before the financial crisis hit the eurozone. Many industrial as well as political leaders now want a set of targets for 2030 to be agreed in order to strengthen the region’s emissions trading system (ETS) and boost investor confidence.

Countries supporting a renewable energy target claim that a binding goal would help to cut the EU’s dependency on fossil fuel imports and boost economic growth. Meanwhile the UK, Germany, France and Italy have called for the European Commission to set a binding cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.

"An ambitious greenhouse gas target of at least 40 per cent domestic emission reductions will be central to unlocking the tens of billions in low carbon investments we urgently need," ministers from the four countries wrote in a letter to the Commission.

The European Commission is due to publish a communication on 22 January 2014 outlining its 2030 policy. "In its upcoming communication … the Commission must propose an ambitious and binding renewable energy target," said Stephane Bourgeois of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). "It cannot deny the findings of its own impact assessment which says a renewable energy target is better for the economy than a greenhouse gas target alone – over 560 000 more jobs, €500 billion in fossil fuel import savings, and lower energy costs for energy intensive industries."

However those calling for binding climate and energy targets will have to overcome the resistance of countries such as Poland that are more reliant on fossil fuels and who argue that ambitious targets would hurt their economies.

Sian Crampsie