EU takes front seat on climate and clean energy

Chirac’s radioactive cloud fails to contaminate summit deal

Press release - March 9, 2007
Brussels, Belgium — In the biggest such decision since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, EU leaders stepped up the momentum on climate change today, by deciding that the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020. Greenpeace welcomed this resolve and applauded the bloc’s separate agreement on a binding renewable energy target for Europe.

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