The 20-20-20 targets

The European Union agreed on a package of directives and targets for energy and climate action in December 2008. This package contains ambitious goals that member states are supposed to reach by 2020. Given their setup, they are often called the “20-20-20 targets”.

The goals are for Europe by 2020 to

  • Produce 20% less GHG emissions than in 2005
  • Increase the share of energy from renewable sources by 20%
  • Increase energy efficiency by 20%

The first of these goals has been put through a “burden sharing” process that resulted in individual targets for each member state.

In this, everybody is subject to the EU-wide emission trading system, which prescribes that large CO2 emitters such as power and industrial plant get 21% less emission allowances in 2020 than they did in 2005. By virtue of this proposal, Austria is committed to reducing emissions by 16% by 2020 as compared to 2005. This target applies to all emitters that are not part of the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS) under Directive 2003/87/EC. In particular, this means transport, buildings and SMEs.

In 2013, the system was extended to cover further sectors of the economy and was tightened. Emission allowances are now auctioned off instead of simply being granted to emitters.

The Directive on Carbon Capture and Storage is another important component of the efforts in climate protection. It promotes relevant technologies and the practice of geological storage of CO2 emissions.

For the expansion of renewables, a European Directive prescribes national targets also. Overall, these should increase the renewables share in gross final energy consumption, i.e. including electricity, heating and transport, to reach 20% in 2020. Austria’s national target is 34%.