European Union leaders have reached what they described as the world’s most ambitious climate change targets for 2030, paving the way for a new UN-backed global treaty next year.
The 28 leaders on Friday finally overcame divisions at an EU summit in Brussels to reach a deal including a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent compared to 1990 levels.
They also agreed on 27 percent targets for renewable energy supply and efficiency gains, despite of reservations from some member states about the cost of the measures.
|Analysis: Jonah Hull, reporting from Brussels.|
The appearance of progressive EU common policy belies deep unease about additional climate burdens at a time of continued economic crisis. On Friday, eurozone leaders in particular will be knocking heads together after market jitters based on the IMF’s prediction of a 40% chance of a return to recession for the eurozone. It’s an outlook all too gloomy in the face of record low inflation, high unemployment and continued slow growth, including in economic powerhouse Germany.
On Friday morning the outgoing European Council president Herman van Rompuy announced that EU funding for Ebola-affected countries in West Africa would increase to 1 billion euros. That’s a doubling of the existing pledges and in line with what British Prime Minister David Cameron had asked for when he urged the EU last week to come up with a more ambitious package of measures to fight Ebola. It’s a good result for Cameron who has tried to shame his fellow EU leaders to do more by holding Britain up as the lead contributor of funds so far.
“Deal! At least 40 percent emissions cut by 2030. World’s most ambitious, cost-effective, fair EU 2030 climate energy policy agreed,” EU president Herman Van Rompuy tweeted.
The EU wanted to agree on the targets ahead of a summit in Paris in November and December 2015, where it is hoped the world will agree to a new phase of the Kyoto climate accords which run until 2020.
The agreement puts the EU “in the driving seat” ahead of the Paris conference, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said.
Environmental groups said the deal did not go far enough to cut global warming.
The climate deal builds on the EU’s targets for 2020 of a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gases, blamed for global warming, a 20 percent boost in renewables such as solar and wind power and a 20 increase in energy efficiency.
While the new 40 percent target for greenhouse gases and 27 percent for renewables agreed on Friday were as expected, a 30 percent goal for an increase in energy efficiency set in July by the Commission was watered down to 27 percent.
Environment group Greenpeace said the EU had “pulled the handbrake on clean energy”.
“These targets are too low, slowing down efforts to boost renewable energy and keeping Europe hooked on polluting and expensive fuel,” it said British-based humanitarian group Oxfam called for targets of 55 percent in emissions cuts, 40 percent for energy savings and 45 percent for renewables.
The EU, meanwhile, named Christos Stylianides of Cyprus as the bloc’s coordinator to fight the Ebola disease which has claimed nearly 4,900 lives in West Africa.
Stylianides is the incoming EU commissioner for humanitarian aid.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said that other EU nations “need to do more” than the nearly $750 million they have currently pledged to fight the virus.
The leaders were set to discuss the Ukraine crisis although any progress is unlikely, as an EU review on the ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels is not due until next Tuesday.
They will search for ways on Friday to foster economic growth and jobs amid fears of a triple-dip recession.