Jan 20 (Reuters) - The European Union will publish new long-term goals on Wednesday for curbing climate change, marking the start of a long process to fix them in EU law.
Apart from providing guidance for EU member states and their industries, the targets are significant in the context of global climate change talks, which Europe has sought to lead.
The targets, for the year 2030, will be debated by EU leaders at summits in March and June. Firm legislative proposals are not expected before 2015 following European Parliamentary elections and a change of Commissioners this year. Even after that, it would take roughly two years for them to become EU law.
The previous targets for 2020, agreed in principle in 2007 and signed into EU law in 2009, are a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels; a 20 percent share of all energy to come from renewable sources; and a 20 percent improvement in energy savings.
The Commission is on track to exceed or meet the first two goals, which are binding, while falling short of the energy efficiency goal, which is not.
The Commission says it has learnt from the 2020 experience and now a simpler approach is needed with one main, fully binding goal for carbon reduction backed up by a strengthened carbon market to engineer a shift towards lower carbon fuels.
There is expected to be a renewables target, but only binding at EU-wide level, meaning it would not be broken down into member state targets. Critics say this means it will not be enforced.
There will be no efficiency target as the Commission says it is too soon after months of debate in 2012 brought in an energy efficiency directive to try to enforce the non-binding energy savings goal. The Commission says it will publish a progress review this year, which could lead to a post-2020 target.
While most of the 2030 package will take years to become law, the section on the EU carbon market is already a legislative proposal, so provided member states and parliament agree, it could be enforced relatively quickly.
The carbon market has collapsed under an excess of permits generated by recession, and is trading around 5 euros per tonne.
EU member states this month agreed in principle to temporarily remove some permits from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, but even that decision took many months of debate.
For the future, the Commission proposes a mechanism to adjust supply automatically if demand collapses. It could also add permits in the event of a boom.
WHAT ELSE IS IN THE PACKAGE?
The 2030 energy and environment package is set to include non-binding recommendations on development of shale gas and a pricing report, analysing the impact of energy costs.
Broad conclusions of the pricing report are that the shift towards renewable sources can reduce energy costs and that industry in Europe has become much more efficient, helping in part to offset its energy bills. (Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
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