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REFILE-Czechs ready to back EU climate goals, oppose national targets

PRAGUE, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic is ready to back the European Union's goal of cutting carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030, but it will not support making EU renewable-power and energy-efficiency targets binding on the national level, a government official said.

By Robert Muller

PRAGUE Oct 17 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic is ready to back the European Union's goal of cutting carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030, but it will not support making EU renewable-power and energy-efficiency targets binding on the national level, a government official said.

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European Union leaders are poised to agree new, tougher climate and energy targets for 2030 at an Oct. 23-24 summit. The goals include cutting CO2 emissions 40 percent from 1990 levels, according to an EU document seen by Reuters earlier this month.

They also target a 30 percent increase in energy savings compared with projected consumption and getting 27 percent of energy used from renewable sources.

"We can support the 40 percent reduction of emissions, given it will be necessary to return to the debate after the Paris summit next year," Tomas Prouza, the Czech government's state secretary for EU affairs, said in an interview.

The United Nations will host a global climate change summit in Paris in 2015. The Czechs had tried to get the emissions-reduction target cut to 35 percent, with the possibility for an increase later if there is a global deal.

The European Commission outlined the targets in January. Some businesses say they could put jobs at risks.

Poland - which burns coal to generate most of its power and opposes increasing greenhouse-gas emission - reduction targets - said this week it would veto the new targets if there are no changes, calling the 40 percent goal "unacceptable".

Prouza said making the targets of renewable-power use and energy savings binding on the national level is a "deal-breaker" for the Czech Republic, echoing reservations from others.

The document seen by Reuters says the EU target on renewable energy should be for the EU as a whole and the same applies to the energy-efficiency goal as some nations quibble over upfront costs in insulation and other technology.

"We want an explicit guarantee that those indicative, pan-European targets will never split into national ones," he said.

The Czech Republic plans to have a new state energy strategy ready by the end of this year, setting its own goals regarding sustainability and security. Nuclear power supplied around 44 percent of the country's domestic consumption in 2013. Half came from brown, lignite coal.

"(Nuclear power) would be the logical option. Of course, when we say that nuclear is the way, then we will have a very complicated debate with the Commission, because it does not add up economically at the moment," Prouza said.

Majority state-owned electricity producer CEZ scrapped a multi-billion dollar tender to build new nuclear plants in April because of low wholesale power prices and a failure to get government price guarantees. It is now waiting on the new state strategy before any further moves.

Prouza said a British plan could be a precedent - it guarantees the price of power from its first new nuclear project in decades at Hinkley Point and has won EU backing. CEZ's boss has said the same.

"We hope that it is a precedent. On the other hand, Commissioner (Guenther) Oettinger has been trying hard to explain it is a mere exception," Prouza said. (Editing by Jason Hovet, Larry King)

Reuters
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Reuters
Published on:
October 17, 2014
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http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/USenergyNews/~3/6e1BVKvnins/story01.htm
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