Ambitious plans?

Published: Monday 30 April 2007

In a recent meet in Brussels, the European Union (EU) agreed to new emissions reduction targets, after a long tussle over renewable energy targets.

On March 9, 2007, 27 EU member states agreed to a binding cut of 20 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. It said it could even go for a 30 per cent cut if other developed countries followed suit. Within the same period, EU wants 10 per cent of its cars and trucks to run on biofuels and 20 per cent of its power to come from renewable energy sources.

The renewable energy targets were found to be very high by eastern European countries because they relied heavily on fossil fuel energies. However, it was agreed that EU countries already ahead in renewable fuel investment would have higher targets than others. These national targets will be decided later this year. Also, after much French lobbying, nuclear power, although not strictly a renewable, was recognised as a low carbon energy source.

EU's credibility and its impact on other nations hinged on its ability to agree to binding goals, said Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany's ambassador in UK. German Chancellor Angela Merkel too praised the new targets.

However, some environmental groups claimed the proposals didn't go far enough. The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) said it was disappointed by the failure to set binding targets for energy efficiency and the sidelining of a proposal to make carbon capturing compulsory for all new fossil fuel power stations built after 2020.

Stephan Singer, head of climate and energy policy, WWF, pointed out that the EU was responsible for 12-15 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so even a 30 per cent reduction of its emissions would not make a major difference to global warming.

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