E.U. Sets Ambitious Goals to Address Climate Change
The Union set a target of supplying 20 percent of its energy needs from newable sources, including wind, solar and wave energy. Currently renewables make up only 8.5 percent of the E.U.'s energy usage.
Although some feared that new climate targets would hamper the European economy, the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso estimated the program would be dramatically cheaper than the cost of doing nothing on climate change. Barroso estimated that the new program would cost about .5 percent of the E.U.'s gross domestic product, or a total of around 60 billion euros, or to bring it to a more personal level, about three euros per person per week on average.
Significant savings will come from reducing energy imports by European countries -- saving perhaps 50b euros per year. Along those lines, reduced air pollution will eventually save 11b euros per year, as spending for pollution controls drops dramatically.
Each country in the E.U. will be given a specific emissions target under the proposal based; Sweden will be required to supply just under half of its domestic energy with renewables, while Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Hungary will each need to supply 13 percent of total energy from renewable sources.
Various complaints about the proposal surfaced from all quarters yesterday. Industrial groups said the targets would be too onerous and would drive energy costs significantly higher than the 15 percent increase estimated by Commission officials. Environmental advocates said the 20 percent reduction was a far cry from what was needed, and much lower than the 25-40 percent reductions proposed at the Bali climate summit late last year. Also a target of complaints is the E.U.'s proposal to generate 10 percent of fuel for transportion from bio-based products. Critics said that biofuels technology in its current state could cause more harm than good to the environment.
The carbon trading industry stands to gain big from the proposal, however. The E.U. will include more industries -- and more carbon-intensive industries, like aluminum and chemicals -- into its ETS trading scheme. And rather than receiving carbon credits from grants, beginning in 2013, companies will have to purchase emission credits in an auction format, a significant boost for carbon traders and a potentially lucrative windfall for early-adopting companies.
More details about the new European plan are available online at the European Commission website.
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