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

The biggest issue which had to be overcome was the different view of East-European leaders and West-European leaders. Many growing economies in the East rely heavily on fossil fuels and fear that harsh quota will threaten their economic growth. In the end, they agreed that every member of the European Union will strive towards the goals, but countries in the need of help getting there will receive financial support from the other members.

The question many people ask if this measures go far enough. I gathered some opinions from both sides, but one must always keep in mind the agreed goals try to balance between enough but not too much.

Jeremy Wates, EEB (Eurpean Environmental Bureau) Secretary General, reacted: “With this abysmal result, Europe’s leaders have failed their citizens and failed the world. More and more extreme weather events such as flooding and wildfires are already hurting people and their communities all across Europe. Adopting a set of targets to cut energy waste by 40%, roll out sustainable renewables to 45% of the energy mix and cut emissions by 60% is what the science of climate change demands, and is also what will help Europe get on its feet.”

But the EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard had a positive feeling about he deal and said she was “very proud” that the leaders “were able to get their act together on this pressing climate challenge”.

Joris den Blanken of Greenpeace thinks it’s a “very modest” package.

Roger Harrabin, BBC’s Environment Analyst, believes the deal is ambitious, yet not enough for Europe to reach its own commitment to cut emissions by more than 80% of the 1990 levels in 2050. The current deal means a lot of the work will still be waiting after 2030, a very though task for the next generation of European leaders.

In the beginning of this week, world leaders gathered in Bonn, Germany, to decide next steps on a global scale. Yet, talks were fruiless in the way they didn’t fulfill the expectations about progress on the agreement which will be made in Paris in December 2015.

UCS policy director Alden Meyer said: “Unfortunately, we’re leaving Bonn with not much more clarity than when we arrived” .

We can only hope that Europe action will be an example to other world leaders to take action – although some clearly think Europe didn’t go far enough, they do something at least.


European Report

BBC News

European Environmental Bureau

Irish Times