PTI: European Union leaders have reached a deal on a comprehensive package of climate targets, including a binding 40 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the level of 1990 by 2030.
They also agreed at a summit in Brussels yesterday to increase the share of renewable energy consumed in the EU to at least 27% and to boost energy efficiency by 27%.
These targets, which are not binding, “will be achieved while fully respecting the member states’ freedom to determine their energy mix,” they said in a joint statement after the meet.
“Individual member states are free to set their own higher national targets,” the statement said.
The breakthrough in the 28-nation bloc’s tough negotiations on its climate targets came after a compromise was reached with Poland, which strongly rejected attempts to set binding targets to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Poland and some other east European members of the EU, which are heavily dependent on coal for power generation, expressed fears that their economies will be hit by the Union’s climate goals and demanded compensation in lieu from the supranational body.
German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Holland, who are at the forefront of efforts to reach a binding agreement on climate targets, held a separate meting with Poland’s new Prime Minister Eva Kopacz and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy before joining the other EU leaders for the opening session of their two-day summit.
Under pressure from Britain and Poland, the EU leaders scaled down their energy efficiency goal to 27% from 30% as envisaged originally.
Merkel, who hailed the agreement as an “important step forward,” said it would enable the EU to play a decisive role in international efforts to combat global warming.
EU’s climate targets posed “no problems or burden” for Germany, she told a news conference.
Rompuy, who hosted the summit, said the climate and energy deal “sets Europe on an ambitious, yet cost-effective climate and energy path.”
It will allow Europe to take a “positive message, a message of commitment,” to the international climate negotiations, especially to the UN conference in Paris at the end of next year.
It is also a “timely decision” in the context of the current conflict in Ukraine and turmoil in the Middle East.
These developments have highlighted how urgent it is for Europe to reduce its energy dependency, Rompuy said.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU is doubling its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by raising its goal from a 20 per cent cut set for 2020 to 40 per cent by 2030.
“This is indeed a very ambitious, but achievable target,” he said.
The EU’s climate and energy deal will give a boost to Europe’s competitiveness by keeping the bloc on the path towards a low carbon economy and green growth, with the necessary financial support and solidarity, he said.
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