Renewable Energy Associated and Low Carbon Emissions

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Energy is needed in every day of modern life. As the world population is growing so is the need for energy. Cost of energy is an important factor for energy production. However, there is also environmental impact. Carbon dioxide methane sulphur dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced during energy production can lead to global warming. Global warming has harmful impacts like drought, storms, rise in sea levels and possibility of extinction. 

Energy harvested from fossil fuels is associated with high level of GHG emissions1,2 (which is measured by carbon dioxide equivalent CO2e). So, the search is continuously going on for clean energy which is associated with low GHG emissions. We also need sources which are renewable as the supply of fossil fuels are finite and will finish one day. Nuclear energy can be associated with low carbon emissions and is a major source of clean energy. Though the nuclear energy is renewable the material used for production is not. However, wind power, solar power, biomass energy, hydropower are all examples of renewable energy associated with low carbon emissions. In EU production of energy from different renewable sources can help to reducing fossil fuel import, reduce co2 emissions, help technological innovation and employment .1,2 These sources make the energy production sustainable as well.

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The EU has led the world in creating an emissions trading system (ETS) for CO2, which is the cornerstone of EU policy to counter climate change, and a major factor in EU energy policy. The ETS is a cap-and-trade system which is seen as providing the core of a wider scheme to limit carbon emissions worldwide. The ETS aims to reduce Europe’s emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. It covers some 11,000 installations (power stations and industrial plants) in 28 EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein accounting for nearly half of the EU’s carbon emissions. In 2011, carbon to the value of about €112 billion was traded on the ETS, but in 2012 this dropped to about €75 billion, its lowest level since 2008. After a positive start in 2005, in May 2006 the price of emissions allowances under the ETS for the first commitment period (2005-2007) plunged to less than half their previous value, indicating fundamental problems with the efficacy of the whole scheme. Attempts have been made since then to address those problems.

In January 2014 the EC published its 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies4, including a legislative proposal for the ETS to establish a market stability reserve to operate in the fourth commitment and trading period starting in 2021. The reserve would both address the surplus of emission allowances that has built up in recent years and improve the system's robustness by automatically adjusting the supply of allowances to be auctioned. In February 2015 the European Parliament voted in favour of a market stability reserve to operate from 2019.

The 2008 EC Climate and Energy Package set the '20-20-20' targets for 20205: a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, 20% renewables share in energy consumption and a 20% improvement in EU energy efficiency. The EC's 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies published in January 2014 moved away from major reliance on renewables to achieve emissions reduction targets and allows scope for nuclear power to play a larger role. It is focused on CO2 emissions reduction, not the means of achieving that, and allows more consideration for cost-effectiveness. However, disincentives to high CO2 emissions remain inadequate to drive change from high dependence on coal. This was debated and largely accepted in October 2014 by EU leaders by way of taking a lead in relation to the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris, and it set collective targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, raise efficiency and deploy more renewables..

The centrepiece of the 2030 Framework is a 'binding' 40% reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared with a 1990 baseline) which will require strong commitments from EU member states. Current policies and measures if followed through should deliver 32% reduction by then, so 40% “is achievable” and widely supported. It implies a 43% cut from 2005 for CO2 in sectors covered by the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) and 30% for the rest. The 40% EU target is to be broken down into 28 nationally-binding targets.

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