Europe agrees renewables and climate targets

12 March 2007

The European Council of ministers, meeting in Brussels, has agreed to set a Europe-wide target for a 20% increase renewable energy production by 2020 together with a 20% minimum reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The deal was championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, ahead of the agreement, had noted that within the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions nuclear energy could count as a low CO2 source. This was an issue France in particular had raised, Merkel said.

“Fully respecting Member States’ choice of energy mix and sovereignty over primary energy sources,” the council agreed to adopt measures set out in the European Energy Policy, including binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in relation to 1990 values and to increase the share of renewables by 20%. Within the overall 20% target “differentiated” national overall targets would be agreed “with due regard to a fair and adequate allocation taking account of different national starting points.”

The decision came as part of three objectives set out by the Council for the European Energy Policy, announced in January, including increasing security of supply, maintaining the availability of affordable energy, and combating climate change.

Underlining “the vital importance” of limiting the global temperature increase to 2° C above pre-industrial levels, the Council said that an integrated approach to climate and energy policy is needed to realise this objective.

In its conclusions the Council also said that negotiations on a post-2012 agreement to succeed Kyoto need to be launched at the UN international climate conference beginning at the end of 2007 and completed by 2009. The Council also supports the notion that developed countries collectively reduce their emissions in the order of 30% by 2020, and by 60% to 80% by 2050, “provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions.”

European Council adopted an energy Action Plan for the period 2007-2009, based on the European Energy Policy, with “highly ambitious quantified targets” on efficiency, renewables and the use of biofuels and calls for a European Strategic Energy Technology plan, including Carbon Capture and Sequestration, to be examined at the European Council meeting in spring of 2008.

Despite the elation in Brussels, where the deal is seen as a breakthrough on unified energy policy, the European Green Party dismissed the agreement as a missed opportunity. A spokesman for the group said that the target for greenhouse gases should have been 30% below 1990 levels by 2020.




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