The Climate Changes: Europe Learns to Lead

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Mar 012008

At their summit last week, the twenty-seven member countries of the European Union agreed on an impressive package of climate policy targets. The union committed to an overall goal of a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Bio-fuels in transport must then account for at least 10 percent, and no less than one fifth of EU energy will have to be generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydro power. The agreement was quickly praised as “groundbreaking” and “bold” by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, “the most ambitious package ever agreed by any commission or any group of countries on energy security and climate protection” by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and as constituting a “new quality of climate policy” and the basis for a “third technological revolution” by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Politicians’ eulogizing of their own efforts is nothing new in politics, not even in the EU which has not exactly been crowned with success in recent years. Still, for a number of reasons the accord might indeed stand as a remarkable milestone in European diplomatic history.

BLOG, March 2007 (PDF)