EU Energy Plan
TWIG - The European Commission unveiled an ambitious new energy action plan in Brussels on Wednesday. Setting out a roadmap for a common EU energy policy, it proposed post-Kyoto emissions targets for tackling climate change and outlined energy goals for the 27-member bloc.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso said it was time for a "post-industrial revolution" which would see Europe slash greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020.
EU countries are currently part of the international Kyoto climate change treaty and have agreed to reduce by 2012 their emissions by 8 percent below 1990 levels. The Commission now wants member states to endorse an EU objective of a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by developed countries, such as the US, Canada and Australia, by 2020.
The EU’s executive body is moreover aiming to increase the use of renewable energy sources, to limit global temperature changes to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. It also wants to improve the EU’s energy efficiency by 20 percent. "This would make Europe the most energy-efficient region in the world," the Commission states on its website.
German Presidency to promote coordinated position
Enhancing energy efficiency, increasing security of supply and combating climate change are among the core topics of the six-month German EU Presidency, which began on January 1.
"We will do everything we can to give Europe an ambitious agenda on these issues," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting European Commissioners in Berlin on Tuesday.
The Commission’s strategic energy review will be on the agenda of meetings of both EU energy and environment ministers in February. It will also be up for approval by all 27 member states at the EU’s spring summit in March, at which energy and climate change will be the main focus.
Germany also holds the presidency of the G8 group of leading industrialized nations in 2007, and Merkel moreover said she would be interested to take a coordinated European position on climate change to the G8 summit at Heiligendamm in June.
New biofuels targets bandied about
Meanwhile German Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer recently spoke out in favor of boosting biofuels in the EU. "I am making a case for binding biofuel goals at the EU level," he is quoted as saying by dpa in the Irish Farmers Journal. "For me the basis of discussion is 8 percent by 2015."
The Commission on Wednesday proposed a 10 percent target by 2020, up from a 5.75 percent target by 2010 enshrined in a 2003 EU biofuels directive now under review.
As with the entire EU energy package, it remains to be seen
what targets and policies all 27 member states finally agree upon. Although
environmental groups by and large hailed the new proposals as a good start,
some claimed they were still "too little, too late" in the battle against
global climate change.
Links:New EU energy plan (European Commission) Related statements and speeches (EU press room) EU plans ‘industrial revolution’ (BBC) Brussels urges EU to stick its neck out (euobserver.com) Eco-groups look to Germany (eupolitix.com)
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