The European Union (EU) has undertaken to increase the use of renewable energy to 20% by 2020. This was agreed by the EU’s Heads of State and Government in Brussels on Friday (9th March).
How individual Member States will contribute to this target will be decided in separate negotiations. For the moment, though, there is agreement that the target of 20% within the European Union should be met.
Chancellor Merkel was satisfied and happy at the outcome, saying that it would “lead to a real change in our behaviour towards energy supplies.”
Sitting next to EU General Secretary Javier Solana, Council President Angela Merkel opened the second working session. This was a goal she had championed right up to the end, saying it was so important because renewable energy “means a boost in innovation for Europe”.
Merkel explained that the EU was about to embark on a new path “where we must advance scientific and technological development”. She stressed that this was important “so that we can play our part as an exporter of such technologies in future as well”.
The previous evening, the Heads of State and Government had already agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in relation to 1990 levels. This target is also binding.
“At international negotiations, we will offer to reduce emissions in Europe by 30% if international partners come on board,” said Chancellor Merkel, adding that she would be putting this offer to the G8 States at their meeting in Heiligendamm at the start of June.
The European Council reached agreement on other targets, such as increasing energy efficiency by 20% and a minimum bio fuel content of 10% in fuels.
A measure of credibility
“It is important we can tell the G8 members that Europe has made a real commitment. That gives us a measure of credibility,” said Merkel.
She explained that two goals were at stake. The first concerned the share of renewable energy sources, meaning wind, water, sun and biomass. Merkel stated clearly that “nuclear power does not fall into this category”.
The second concerned the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. In this context, nuclear power could count as a low-carbon energy source. This is an issue which France in particular had raised.
Distributing the load among Member States
José Manuel Barroso said that, in the third quarter of 2007, the European Commission would table concrete proposals as to how the load for achieving the renewable energy target could be shared.
The particular circumstances of each individual country would be taken into account. Barroso stressed that not every country would have to achieve a 20% share of renewable energies.
Reducing the costs of bureaucracy
The European Council also agreed a 25% reduction in bureaucracy costs by the Commission. Chancellor Merkel explained that EU directives would be reworked to achieve this. “The Member States want to adopt similar targets,” she said.
Merkel praised the individual Member States for their willingness to compromise, adding that “the negotiations took place in an exceptionally construction atmosphere.”
Ambitious climate protection targets
The reduction in CO2 emissions is an ambitious target. The Kyoto Protocol requires the European Union to cut its CO2 emissions by 8% between 1990 and 2012 (i.e. within 22 years).
Friday’s climate protection target, which is to be adopted as part of the Action Plan, means that EU Member States will have to reduce their CO2 emissions by a further 12% between 2012 and 2020 (i.e. eight years). At the start of 2007, the EU had achieved 1.2% of its 8% target.