A plan likely to provoke clenched teeth in both industry and green groups in the European Union is set for adoption in Brussels. The European Commission’s greenhouse gas emissions targets would represent the bloc’s contribution to remedy climate change. Detailed proposals this Wednesday will include a one-fifth cut from 1990 levels by 2020.
The challenge will be to avoid harming a fragile economy by raising energy costs for industries facing rising competition from China, India and the United States. Some of the heaviest lobbying has centred on whether businesses should buy permits to emit carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming, starting in 2013, in phases.
The Brussels blueprint looks at slashing by 21 percent two billion tons of CO2. It is thought this is the total that energy-intensive industry would produce between 2005 and the end of the next decade.
Germany would shoulder the largest share of the cuts, followed by Britain, Italy and Poland. The overall cost of the energy sector reform would be an estimated 60 billion euros per year.
But this would be offset by a saving on energy imports worth 50 billion euros a year, and an 11 billion euro per year reduction in air pollution control costs by 2020.
The draft laws also include providing 20 percent of the bloc’s power from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass or geothermal by 2020 from the current 8.5 percent.
At least 10 percent of fuel used in road transport would have to be environment-compatible biofuels.
The proposals will only become binding with the approval of the 27 EU member states and the European Parliament.