The European Council, a working group of EU country ministers, concluded its meeting in Brussels on Friday, March 9, with the announcement of ambitious goals to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The challenges of climate change need to be tackled effectively and urgently,” said an EU bulletin. “Recent studies on this subject have contributed to a growing awareness and knowledge of the long-term consequences, including the consequences for global economic development, and have stressed the need for decisive and immediate action.
“The European Council underlines the vital importance of achieving the strategic objective of limiting the global average temperature increase to not more than 2°C [3.6°F] industrial levels.” As a first step the EU wants a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, compared to 1990, and a 60 to 80 percent reduction by 2050.
In order to achieve that goal the EU adopted a comprehensive energy Action Plan, which stresses the role of bio-fuels, as well as the development of alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power. It also outlined plans to increase the use and availability of more energy efficient technology, including fluorescent light bulbs and cleaner burning automobile engines.
The European Council also reaffirmed its commitment to continue to assure “the leading role of the EU in international climate protection.” The bulletin stressed that “international collective action will be critical in driving an effective, efficient and equitable response on the scale required to face climate change challenges.”
The Council also reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to the current “negotiations on a global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement.” These aim to “build upon and broaden the Kyoto Protocol architecture and provide a fair and flexible framework for the widest possible participation. They are set “to be launched at the UN international climate conference beginning at the end of 2007 and completed by 2009.”
The EU also called for the expansion of the current carbon-trading scheme.
The complete report, including the full text of the Energy Policy for Europe (EPE) may be obtained on the EU web site at: http://europa.eu/index_en.htm.
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