EU: push for climate protection

Environmental Council adopts 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020

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Yesterday, Europe set an important example for international environmental protection: The EU wants to commit itself to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 as part of an international climate change agreement. Until such an agreement is agreed, the EU will reduce its emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020 (compared to 1990).

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These ambitious climate protection goals until 2020 and an EU negotiation package for a climate protection agreement after 2012 were adopted by the Environment Council yesterday in Brussels under German Presidency. Thus, the joint efforts of the European Environment Ministers under the Council President, Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, apparently against the persistent resistance of EU member states such as Poland and Finland have prevailed. The environment ministers had been discussing the energy package presented by the European Commission at the beginning of January. But in the afternoon, an agreement was reached on the package's core requirement: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

On Thursday, energy ministers at their council meeting had shaken the other two pillars of the European Commission's energy package. Although it had spoken out in favor of expanding renewable energies by 20 percent by 2020, this target was not bindingly agreed. The directives for a minimum level of energy efficiency had also softened the energy ministers.

"With the passing of the climate goals and the package of negotiations, the EU has confirmed its leading role in climate protection, " commented Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel on what he had achieved. "This is a signal to the world community that the EU wants to make a fair and appropriate contribution in the framework of an international climate change agreement. This is a historic step forward to lift the mutual blockade on an international level. "Display

The environmental organization WWF also welcomed the decision: "The central pillar of the European Commission's energy package seems to have been saved. As soon as other industrialized countries embark on similarly brave goals, they are even ready to increase this target to 30 percent, "said WWF climate expert Regine Günther.

"The European Union thus seems to be living up to its pioneering role in climate protection and to have sent an important signal for climate policy after the expiry of the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol. However, in order to win the fight against global warming, more countries need to be brought on board and as much resources mobilized as possible. "

"The industrialized nations have a special responsibility for climate protection and must therefore continue to lead the way even after 2012. The aim of the EU in the international negotiations is that the industrialized countries pledge to reduce their emissions by a total of 30% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. That also includes the US, "said Gabriel.

(BMU, WWF, 21.02.2007 - NPO)