High energy prices – EU ministers defend climate targets

Luxembourg (dpa) – Environment ministers from several EU countries have defended the common climate targets as a solution to the steep rise in energy prices.

«Renewable energies and the courageous expansion of these energies make us less dependent on imports from fossil fuels and are therefore the solution to the problem, ”said Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) before a ministerial meeting in Luxembourg. “We don’t want anyone to use this situation to endanger our great commitment to the transition to renewable energies and the decarbonization of our economy. On the contrary, “said the Spanish Environment Minister Teresa Ribera.

Energy prices – especially gas prices – have risen rapidly since the beginning of the year. Consumers are already feeling this through higher electricity and heating costs. Some member states such as Poland and Hungary have blamed the rising price of carbon dioxide (CO2) in emissions trading for the trend. “The reason prices are rising is partly the fault of the Commission,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at a separate meeting in Slovenia. In the EU emissions trading system, for example, electricity providers have to pay for the emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2. The EU plans to extend this system to buildings and road transport. This is already the case in Germany.

EU Environment Commissioner Frans Timmermans said that the emissions trading system is only involved “to a very small extent” in the current rise in energy prices, at most by a fifth. Rather, it is based on an unusually strong demand for energy after the pandemic. “The faster we increase our renewable energy sources, the faster we can protect our citizens from price increases in the traditional energy sector,” said Timmermans. France insists on classifying nuclear power as green energy. “If we want to be successful in the fight against climate change, we need nuclear production, nuclear power plants and more investments in nuclear energy,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday. Schulze gave this a clear rejection. She is not ready to declare nuclear energy as sustainable. “The future lies in renewable energies and not in nuclear energy,” said the SPD politician.

Ribera emphasized that short-term measures are also needed to protect consumers from the rise in prices. “We in Spain and also in other Member States believe that what we have is not enough, because exceptional situations need exceptional solutions,” said the Spanish minister. Spain, together with France, Greece, the Czech Republic and Romania, presented a paper on Tuesday calling for European measures. Among other things, the states want to coordinate gas purchases and decouple the price of electricity and gas. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed on Tuesday that these proposals would be made at a summit on 21. and 22. Discussed October.

Several Member States have already intervened at national level to protect private households from overly high electricity and heating bills. These included, for example, France, Spain and Italy, which have been particularly hard hit by the price increase. However, the national funds were insufficient, said Ribera. The EU Commission wants to present a toolbox with funds next week to support member states in their respective measures. At the end of the year, the Commission is planning a more extensive energy package that will, among other things, address the gas market.

At their meeting, the environment ministers also agreed on a common position for the COP 26 Climate Conference in Glasgow at the end of October. At the conference, you want to enforce, among other things, that countries have a maximum of five years to achieve targets for reducing emissions, as is clear from a communication.

The climate package “Fit for 55 »of the EU Commission. It contains legislative proposals designed to ensure that the EU becomes climate neutral by 2050. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 2030 by at least 55 percent compared to the year 1990. It was the Council of Ministers’ first exchange on the legislative proposals and thus a step on the way to their adoption.

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