Greenpeace installs solar panels on a school.
Of course, we have been telling politicians all along that only
renewable technologies such as wind and solar power, alongside
improving energy efficiency, are the only real solution to climate
change. The penny dropped last year, when the EU announced that by
2020, a fifth of all energy would come from renewable sources.
Governments were quick to show their green credentials by
signing up but now we want to see action to make sure the target is
Large energy companies lobbied hard to introduce a virtual
trading system for renewable energy that would undermine the broad
development of renewable energy technologies. Luckily these efforts
to derail effective renewables support failed.
Now the European Commission has published targets setting out
the amount of renewable energy each country must generate to ensure
that the EU goal is met. The push on renewables is just one part of
a wider package to tackle climate change. They have also released a
breakdown of how much each country needs to cut their carbon
emissions by to make good the EU's promise to achieve a 20 percent
cut by 2020.
30 per cent carbon emissions reductions are
So far, so good. But whilst these measures show that the EU is
thinking along the right lines, the targets themselves simply
aren't ambitious enough.
The EU targets fall short of what is needed to ensure that
global warming is kept below 2 degrees Celsius, what scientists
agree would be the tipping point for Earth's climate.
And it isn't just environmental organisations that are saying
this. Scientists agree that a 20 percent cut in emissions just
isn't enough, and the European Commission themselves have openly
admitted that it falls short of what is needed.
If the EU really wants to show leadership on climate change they
need to set realistic targets to cut emissions - and that means a
30 percent reduction by 2020.
EU carbon credits system still flawed
The climate proposals also set out new rules for emissions
trading. The EU set up the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2005 to
tackle emissions from industry. It means that companies have to
either reduce their emissions or buy carbon credits from other
The EU has suggested ways to fix some major flaws in the
existing scheme, but again they've caved into industry pressure and
pulled back from making the scheme as effective as it needs to
Companies will still be given at least 40 percent of the carbon
permits that are available for free in 2013. This is no good. If
the scheme is to have any real teeth we need to make sure that the
polluter pays and that the real cost of carbon is accurately
The EU's climate package is a good start but if Europe really is
to show bold leadership on climate change they need to go much
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