European Commission Proposes Integrated Energy, Climate Change Package

On Jan. 10, the European Commission proposed a "comprehensive package of measures" to establish a new Energy Policy for Europe to combat climate change and boost the European Union's (EU) energy security and competitiveness.

The package of proposals set a series of ambitious targets on greenhouse-gas emissions and renewable energy and aim to create an internal market for energy and strengthen effective regulation, officials said. The commission believes that when an international agreement is reached on the post-2012 framework, this should lead to a 30-percent cut in emissions from developed countries by 2020. The commission proposes that the European Union commits now to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, in particular through energy measures.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "Today marks a step change for the European Union. Energy policy was a core area at the start of the European project. We must now return it to center stage. The challenges of climate change, increasing import dependence and higher energy prices are faced by all EU members. A common European response is necessary to deliver sustainable, secure and competitive energy. The proposals put forward by the commission demonstrate our commitment to leadership and a long-term vision for a new Energy Policy for Europe that responds to climate change."

Europe faces real challenges. On current projections, energy and transport policies would mean that rather than falling, EU greenhouse-gas emissions would increase by around 5 percent by 2030. With current trends and policies, the EU's energy import dependence will jump from 50 percent of total EU energy consumption today to 65 percent in 2030.

The package proposed by the commission seeks to provide solutions to these challenges based on three central pillars:

1. "A true Internal Energy Market"

The aim is to trigger the huge investments needed in energy. The single market is good not just for competitiveness, but also sustainability and security, officials said.

2. Accelerating the shift to low carbon energy

The commission proposes a binding target of 20 percent of EU's overall energy mix to be sourced from renewable energy by 2020. This will require a massive growth in all three renewable energy sectors: electricity, biofuels and heating and cooling.

3. Energy efficiency

The commission reiterates the objective of saving 20 percent of total primary energy consumption by 2020. If successful, this would mean that by 2020 the EU would use approximately 13 percent less energy than today.

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This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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