Dogged attempts by French President Jacques Chirac to make support for the renewables target contingent on the promotion of nuclear power were ultimately unsuccessful.
Climate gas target
Europe's heads of state and government, meeting for a summit in Brussels, endorsed an ambition to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the 27 European Union member states by 30% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
However, while acknowledging that an EU 30% reduction is necessary to counter climate change, they only pledged concrete action to achieve a 20% unilateral reduction.
The 30% emissions reduction target is consistent with the EU objective of keeping global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius and, therefore, of protecting regions that are most vulnerable to the worst impacts of climate change.
"EU leaders deserve top marks for pushing climate change to the top of the agenda and recommending a greenhouse gas emission cut for Europe of 30% by 2020; other nations should now sign up and follow their lead. It is unfortunate, however, that the EU could not pledge today to deliver this objective, and settled for a 20% binding target. This is like trying to get in to a top university by aiming for a B-grade exam result, knowing you need an A grade to get in," said Mahi Sideridou of Greenpeace.
Clean energy drive
The summit also committed EU countries to increase the share of renewable energy to 20% by 2020, showing strong resolve to develop the cleanest and safest energy technologies available.
"Europe desperately needed EU leaders to show support for renewable energy sources as they have done today, to make these climate-friendly technologies mainstream. But structured support is still needed, so that all Europeans can light and heat their home with clean energy this century," said Frauke Thies of Greenpeace.
To this end, Greenpeace has called for this overall target to be backed by specific objectives for the electricity and heating/cooling sectors.
Although the Summit adopted a minimum target of 10% for the share of biofuels in transport, safeguards need to be defined to ensure that these fuels are developed in an ecological and socially responsible way.
Mahi Sideridou, climate and energy policy director, Greenpeace European Unit, t +32 (0)2 274 1904
Frauke Thies, renewable energy campaigner, Greenpeace European Unit, t +32 (0)2 274 1912
Katharine Mill, media officer, Greenpeace European Unit, t +32 (0)2 274 1903