European Union to Cut Greenhouse Emissions By 40 Percent

European Union (EU) member nations are going to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels over the next fifteen years. After hours of long and difficult debate in Brussels, European Union leaders finally came to this agreement. Compromises were made between nations that wanted more significant cuts in emissions, and those that rely on more polluting energy sources, particularly coal. The president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, assured that poorer nations relying more heavily on coal and other polluting sources of energy, and in need of economic help to achieve these newly agreed upon targets, would receive economic assistance in order to help them meet these goals.

Van Rompuy acknowledged that this was not an easy deal to reach. Some nations, particularly Germany and the Scandinavian nations, had desired far more ambitious results. Sweden held up the talks in the early hours of the morning, believing that the discussions were not going nearly as far as they should, and demanded more. Those nations also argued that greater energy efficiency would curtail Europe’s present reliance on Russia for gas imports. This claims comes in a year that saw rising tensions between Russia and the European Union, and the West more generally.

However, some countries resisted, for various economic reasons. Poland has a heavy reliance on its coal industry. A coalition of other nations from eastern and central Europe tend to rely on more polluting sources of energy, including coal. As a result, they felt that the burden of sacrifice would fall too heavily upon them. One of the concessions that they did manage was to secure increased financial assistance in helping them to meet the goals that the EU came to an agreement with.

The result is this pact that sets up a framework for Europe to work towards. The European Union will now aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, among other things. Van Rompuy suggested that this energy framework should be viewed as a success. Despite the tensions and difficulties, what this agreement means, according to him, is that the EU nonetheless “managed to reach a fair decision. It sets Europe on an ambitious yet cost-effective energy path.”

This new deal has been hailed by some as a new global standard. Yet, despite this being measurable progress, environmental activist groups were not fully satisfied. They felt that more could have been done, and that the European Union is capable of bigger cuts to emissions. Nonetheless, European leaders hope that this deal will set the tempo for further discussions on the global climate set to take place in Paris next year, perhaps hoping that this gives incentive to nations like China and the United States to step up their efforts to curb their own gas emissions.

28 European Union members are going to cut greenhouse emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. It will replace an existing agreement of cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020, which has already mostly been met. They also pledged that renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, will meet at least 27 percent of the needs of member nations by 2030, and also committed to a goal to increase energy efficiency by 27 percent within the next 16 years. These measures will be legally binding for each of the 28 nations.

By Charles Bordeau




The Week

Wall Street Journal

Photo by looking4poetry – Flickr

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