Friday, March 9, 2007 File:Angela Merkel SJ8.jpg

European Union leaders on the second day of their summit have agreed on measures to decrease emission of greenhouse gases and to start using more biological fuels. The governments of the 27 countries in Brussels endorsed 3 main binding targets:

  • to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels by the year 2020 by 20% compared to the level of 1990
  • renewable energy should make up 20% of energy consumption by 2020
  • a 10% share for biofuels in the total consumption of fuels in E.U. transport.

This way, the E.U. wants to contribute in reaching the strategic goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The individual targets for countries will need to be established based on national starting points and potentials, according to the plan. The plans don’t mention an enforcement mechanism yet.

“We can say to the rest of the world, Europe is taking the lead. You should join us fighting climate change.”

In the summit’s conclusions, the E.U. underlines its ambitions as a leading force in international climate protection. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the targets “ambitious and credible”.

Europe is prepared to even increase the objectives if other developed countries follow suit, and it invites other countries to come forward with their plans for the environment beyond 2012, when the Kyoto protocol ends. In June, Merkel plans to discuss the measures with the other members on the Group of Eight summit.

The proposal takes into account the sovereignty of individual countries to determine exactly which energy sources they use. More specifically, each member state should decide if they wish to use nuclear power or not. Some countries oppose the use of nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, and Germany is even in the process of dismantling its nuclear energy production. France on the other hand produces 70% of its electricity in nuclear power plants. [13% of France’s total energy consumption is nuclear.] The report also stresses the importance of nuclear safety in the discussion over nuclear energy.

The summit also asked the European Commission to come up with proposals to reduce energy consumption in lighting and offices by 2008 and 2009. The idea is to replace conventional light bulbs with more energy-efficient alternatives such as the energy saving light bulb.

Another energy-related topic in the conclusions is an agreement on increased security of energy supply. Through member state solidarity and a more interconnected and integrated market, eastern European countries hope to secure their energy supplies in case Russia would cut the supply.

During their two-days summit, the E.U. also discussed economic growth, employment, better regulations and international relations issues.