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Negotiations ground out right up until the 11am deadline on Wednesday, but the European Commission finally managed to agree a landmark deal that will see it cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, whilst at the same time generating 27% of its energy from renewable sources.
This is now the toughest climate change deal in the world as the EU has become the first to set an emissions reduction target ahead of the UN climate change meeting in Paris in 2015. Other major economies are expected to set out their national emission targets within a year.
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Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary for the UK, said that “today’s proposals are a step in the right direction towards an ambitious emissions reduction target for Europe. They provide the flexibility to tackle climate change in the most cost-effective way, so that British consumers aren't paying over the odds to go green;” although he bitterly opposed the renewable energy target to the end, only to be thwarted by Germany, France, and Italy.
Part of the plan to reduce emissions will include the reformation of Europe’s failed emissions trading scheme. The new mechanism will be far more flexible, preventing any surplus of carbon permits from building up, as occurred with the last one, which resulted in a crash in permit prices.
The final targets agreed are far stronger than some member states had been pushing for, but still much weaker than many green campaigners and environmentalists had hoped. Some studies suggest that the EU’s emission levels are already on target to be 25% lower than 1990 levels by 2020, making the 2030 targets relatively easy to achieve.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said, “we want this package to be owned by all Europeans. We believe that this package is ambitious but realistic.”
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Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate chief, said that “if all other big economies in the world do a relatively ambitious effort equal to what we are now proposing, the world will be in a better state when it comes to combating climate change.”
However, Mahi Sideridou, the managing director of Greenpeace is not as impressed by the deal. “The January sales are on and it looks like Europe's dirty energy companies have bagged a bargain. The commission's plan for 2030 is a sell-out that would knock the wind out of a booming renewables industry. European citizens will pay the price [in] fewer green jobs, more imports of expensive fossil fuels and shorter lives because of pollution.”
The new deal will be debated by the governments of the European member states as well as the European parliament in March, before they are fully approved.
By. Joao Peixe Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com