EU: Breakthrough in climate protection

Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase by 30 percent across Europe by 2020

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At the EU spring summit in Brussels, the heads of state and government agreed on Friday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Europe by 30 percent by 2020. In addition, the share of renewable energies will increase to 20 percent by 2020.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel was happy and satisfied with the result after the breakthrough in climate policy. He will "lead to a qualified change in our energy supply behavior". Until recently, Merkel had acted as Council President for this goal. It is important because renewable energies are "an innovation boost for Europe".

With that, the EU is going a completely new path, "in which we need to advance the scientific and technical development, " said Merkel. That is necessary, "so that we can continue to live up to our role as an exporter of such technologies, " the Chancellor reaffirmed. Renewable energies are wind, water, sun and biomass. "Nuclear energy does not fall into this category, " Merkel said.

Change in EU energy and climate policy

"In a truly historic decision, the European Council, chaired by the Federal Chancellor, decided today to change the EU's energy and climate policy. Climate protection and energy policy are brought together for the first time in an integrated policy, "commented Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel in a first statement. He continues: "We are faced with the challenge of halving global CO2 emissions by 2050 by 2050 so that the dangers of climate change remain manageable." Display

In order to achieve this goal, the European Council has decided on concrete measures: By 2020, the EU's energy efficiency will increase by 20 percent. That means no less than an efficiency revolution. To achieve this goal, for example, Germany needs to increase its energy efficiency by three percent per year.

In addition, the European Council has specified that biofuels should also have a binding target of 10% of total petrol and diesel consumption by 2020. This should be achieved in a sustainable manner with second-generation biofuels.

Broad approval of environmental protection organizations

WWF Germany and NABU also welcomed the agreement of the 27 European member states on more climate protection. However, according to the environmental organizations, this first important step would have to be followed by more to seriously address climate change.

"The German Presidency of the Council under German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken an important first step today, but the agreements on paper must now be followed by concrete actions, " warned Regine G√ľnther, climate expert at WWF Germany. "Instead of continuing to build coal-fired power plants and rely on oil, biomass power plants, wind farms and solar plants now have to be connected to the grid."

Chancellor Angela Merkel has managed to convince "hardliners" in matters of nuclear energy such as France and Bulgaria that the European Union must agree on binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020, praised the NABU. Worldwide, the EU could continue to be a pacesetter in climate protection.

"The Chancellor has thus not only fulfilled the expectations of European citizens, but also provided the industry with reliable framework conditions for increased commitment in the field of energy savings, increased efficiency and the expansion of renewable energies, " said NABU President Olaf Tschimpke. According to calculations by the European Commission, this will allow the creation of up to 300, 000 new jobs in these future industries.

BBE welcomes binding targets

The German BioEnergy Association (BBE) expressly welcomed the determination of the binding nature of the targets, as a few days ago the energy and environment ministers' council voted against binding targets. Under the German Presidency of the Council, a tough struggle had succeeded in opening the door to the European energy markets for renewable energies.

However, this is only a step in the right direction, the expansion of renewables will therefore by no means self-running, warns the Chairman of the BBE, Helmut Lamp. Rather, the decision fails to specify the targets for heat and electricity from renewable energy sources. By contrast, the adoption of the binding biofuels target would eventually create a true internal market for biofuels.

(Federal Government online, BMU, NABU, WWF, 12.03.2007 - DLO)