It is behind on its Kyoto targets, but at a summit in Brussels, the European Union has nevertheless pledged to refine its energy mix and re-double efforts on greenhouse gas — blamed for global warming.
A new binding commitment is for a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 – or 30 percent if other major players join – with a view to as much as an 80 percent cut in developed countries, by 2050.
Another groundbreaking venture concerns renewable energy sources; Currently, they account for less than seven percent of production in the EU; Yet it is now resolved that a fifth of its energy consumption should come from renewables, also by 2020 – to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of the current EU president Germany, presenting the summit conclusions, said: “It’s important that renewable energy sources should really be renewable; a surge in technology and innovation should be made possible in Europe. Naturally, the characteristics of each Member State must be taken into account. The national traditions are different.”
This was in reference to the collective accord allowing the EU countries flexibility in how each contributes to the objectives.
France, for instance, is the leading proponent of nuclear power as a viable tool against climate change because it produces very little CO2.
President Jacques Chirac, at what is expected to be his last formal EU summit, said his country had insisted on looking at renewables within a context of low-carbon energies. In this, he included clean coal – which, he noted, still requires further investment to make gains in the market – and nuclear energy.
Several EU states are fundamentally opposed to using nuclear power or, like Germany, are in the process of phasing it out. Anti-nuclear Austria said atomic fission had nothing to do with sustainable energy, such as solar, wind and hydro-electric power.