In a landmark deal, the European Union has agreed to require all 28 member nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
The EU also agreed that renewable energy market share and energy efficiency improvements will both increase to 27%. However, the renewable energy target is binding, but the energy efficiency target will be optional at this stage. It may be reviewed at a later date.
The deal comes ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Paris next year. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has said that “No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU.” The European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard added that “we have sent a strong signal to other big economies and all other countries: we have done our homework, now we urge you to follow Europe’s example.”
This is the first substantial climate deal from any region in the world. However, there is a clause in the agreement that could initiate a review of the deal if other countries do not match the target at the 2015 Paris summit.
The pressure will now be on for both China and the United States – the two largest emitters in the world – to match the EU targets. The EU accounts for around one tenth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and is already doing the most to curb emissions. If a global deal is to be agreed in Paris, the rest of the world will need to follow Europe’s lead, and even push to increase targets further.
Could 2015 be the year the world’s governments finally step up to address climate change in a unified way?
Image CC licensed by Vattenfall: Horns rev offshore wind farm in Denmark