Europe’s recent action on climate change: is it enough?

On the morning of the 25th of October, the world received the news European leaders reached a long-awaited deal on how to tackle climate change after 2020. By now, most people have heard about the 20-20-20 strategy outlined in the climate and energy package in 2009. The three key points of this package are (all to be reached by 2020):

  • A 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels;
  • Raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%;
  • A 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency.

So far, many European countries are doing quite some efforts to reach this goals and many of them will reach this targets well in time. But it was time to think about the next step, and that’s what the recent European top in Brussels was all about. This time, new goals for the decade following 2020 were on the table. The new key points are bolder:

  • 27% energy efficiency,
  • 27% renewables
  • 40% reduction of greenhouse gases

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Photo of the week: Tar Sands

Tar mines alter the Canadian landscape toroughly (photo: Garth Lenz)

Tar sands, also called bituminous sands, is loose sand containing a of mixture of clay and water saturated with a dense and viscous form of petroleum, technically referred to as bitumen. They are found in very large quantities in Canada, Kazakhstan and Russia. The estimated worldwide deposits are far more than estimated deposits for petroleum. The extraction process is expensive, but due to high oil prices tar sands development has seen a big increase the last years. Tar sand mines treathen natural habitats and landscapes as seen on the picture above.

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Photo of the week: Solar power in Spain

The Andasol-1 solar thermal collector is visible from space

In March 2009, the Andasol-1 solar thermal collector opened in Spain, the first of its kind in Europe. Later that year Andasol-2 was opened and in 2011 another Andasol collector became reality. In contrast to the common photovoltaic systems we see on rooftops, the thermal collectors store the sun’s heat in a big heat reservoir of molten salt, by reflecting the sunlight with parabolic mirrors pointed at the reservoir. Via thermal turbines this heat is be transformed into electricity, enough for up to 200 000 people.

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