During the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, 35 Greenpeace activists from six countries climbed cranes and office blocks surrounding the EU building and unfurled three giant banners of a cartoon showing EU leaders speeding to the edge of a cliff in a stretched limo sponsored by some of Europe’s most environmentally destructive energy companies. Greenpeace blames Europe’s largest energy companies for fuelling the EU’s dependence on energy imports. © Eric De Mildt / Greenpeace
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Amid tight security in the EU quarter in Brussels, 35 activists from six countries climbed cranes and office blocks surrounding the EU building where the leaders are meeting to discuss Europe’s energy future. As the meeting got underway, they unfurled three giant banners of a cartoon showing EU leaders speeding to the edge of a cliff in a stretched limo sponsored by some of Europe’s most environmentally destructive energy companies. The climbers are now attempting to deliver a letter to EU leaders calling on them to free Europe of its reliance on polluting and dangerous fuels.
Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Frederic Thoma said: “Europe is heading straight for a crash and our political leaders have taken a back seat. Big energy companies, with vested interests in keeping Europe hooked to oil, gas and coal, are in control. Renewables and energy efficiency can steer Europe away from danger and deliver clean energy that isn’t dependent on suppliers like Russia. Starting with this summit today, EU leaders can wrest back control to help unlock real benefits for people, the environment and the economy.”
Big energy companies are heavily invested in fossil fuels and nuclear power and are lobbying against any ambition by EU countries to shift to a clean and self-sufficient energy system. Improving energy efficiency and developing renewables by setting binding targets would threaten their market dominance  but deliver wider environmental and economic benefits.
The EU imports over half of its oil, gas and coal from abroad. About one third of this comes from Russia, which recently turned off gas supplies that reach Europe through Ukraine. A draft Commission plan to reduce imports would in fact only shift dependence from Russia to other suppliers of fossil fuels like Saudi Arabia or Canada .
A new report by Greenpeace shows that more ambitious targets for renewables and energy efficiency have the potential to massively reduce Europe’s reliance on energy imports, while striking a blow against climate change. The Commission backs targets for the EU to cut its carbon emissions by 40 per cent and achieve a share of renewable energy of at least 27 per cent by 2030. But targets to achieve a 45 per cent share of renewables, 40 per cent energy savings (compared to 2005) and a 55 per cent cut in domestic carbon emissions (compared to 1990) could reduce annual imports of fossil fuels by at least 45 per cent more than Commission plans by 2030. 
An opinion poll carried out by Ipsos last week in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia found that over 85 per cent of people support binding EU targets for renewables and energy efficiency to reduce energy import dependence. Central and Eastern European countries are particularly reliant on energy imports. An official EU-wide poll in March also reported overwhelming support for government action in favour of renewables and efficiency. 
 Greenpeace media briefing, 27 February 2014.
 Greenpeace media briefing, 28 May 2014.
 Greenpeace media briefing, 25 June 2014.
 Ipsos poll, June 2014. Eurobarometer poll, March 2014.
Frederic Thoma – Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser: +32 (0)486 401895,
Greenpeace EU pressdesk: +32 (0)2 274 1911,
For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.