Wednesday, March 14, 2007

EU Adopts Firm Goals - 20% of Energy from Renewables and 20% Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2020

Goals must now be adopted in legal framework by member nations

[From Renewable Energy]

Energy policy and climate protection topped the agenda at the Spring European Council in Brussels last week where European Union (EU) heads of state and government officials committed to set a binding target for 20% of the EU's total energy supply to come from renewables by 2020.

Currently only 6.5% of the EU's energy is sourced from renewables.

The EU, already a leader in renewable energy technology commanding 60% of the world's wind power market, also set a binding minimum target of 10% for the share of biofuels in overall transport petrol and diesel consumption by 2020. According to Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and president of the EU Council, the goals are ambitious and credible.

"Adopting an energy action plan will give the initial spark for a third technological revolution. We'll be going down completely new roads as far as technology and innovation are concerned," said Merkel, adding the targets steps will put the EU in a position to make it clear to the international community that Europe is playing a pioneering role.

In addition, the 27 Member States that make up the EU set a firm target of cutting 20% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as part of the post-Kyoto arrangements. Furthermore, the heads of state said the EU will be willing to raise the goal up to 30% if other countries, including the U.S., China and India, made commitments in the same direction.

"European leaders have provided a powerful response to the looming climate and energy crisis, and the call from European citizens for more renewable energy. With today's decision, followed by effective implementation in the near future, Europe now has a real opportunity to change its energy supply structure towards a much larger share of indigenous, renewable resources, reduced import dependence and less exposure to unpredictable fuel prices," said Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA, after the Spring Summit ended on Friday.

A suitable legal framework now needs to be rapidly adopted in order to reach the 20% target, along with clear guidelines to market participants for the future direction of renewable electricity in Europe.

The EU appears to be doing their part to reduce the threat of global warming. But they can't do it alone! It is absolutely crucial that the United States joins the EU in setting similar reduction goals (20% by 2020 or 25% by 2025) that put us on the path towards an ultimate reduction of 80% or more by 2050.

The EU leaders were smart to say that they would be willing to adopt more aggressive reduction targets if other nations, such as the United States, China and India, adopt similar targets. Rather than do nothing while they wait for other nations to act - as the United States has done under the Bush Administration's leadership, citing the fact that developing nations like China and India are not included in the Kyoto Protocol as reason enough not to do anything to reduce our own emissions - the EU has taken an alternative path, setting out to reduce it's emissions a reasonable amount while publicly stating that they are willing to go further if they do not have to go it alone.

A reasonable policy, and I hope that it provides further pressure on Congress to take action on climate change (although I'm skeptical how much affect the actions of the EU have on U.S. Senators and Representatives). I'm glad that the EU has continued to lead by example in the face of inexcusable inaction from the United States. 'Leaders of the free world' we certainly are not ... at least when it comes to tackling climate change.

[Image source: University of Twente (the Netherlands)]

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