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The EU’s long-term climate strategy is based around a commitment to reduce 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 60-80% by 2050, but with an interim set of targets for 2030 which includes reducing Europe’s dependence on imported energy. The combination of the Ukraine crisis and more scientific evidence about the effects of global warming had encouraged campaigners to believe progress would be made at this month’s summit in Brussels, but the only agreement was to delay the final package until October.
Criticism of the postponement prompted the EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy to stress the EU was ‘not giving up on climate change’ and that the final package would be a step towards ‘long-term objectives for 2050’. But Greenpeace talked of a paradox between EU leaders recognising the need for Europe to strengthen its energy independence yet failing to take the obvious measures: ‘Cash will continue to flow out of the European economy and into the pockets of oligarchs from Russia to Saudi Arabia until there is clear support for home-grown renewables and energy efficiency,’ a spokesperson said.
The EU climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard (pictured), said: ‘EU leaders showed that the way to greater energy independence goes through ambitious climate policies. We got the clear signal: Europe’s 2030 emissions target will be fully in line with our agreed 2050 objectives. And the whole set of decisions, including on renewables and energy efficiency, will be taken no later than October. A good day!’
EU leaders will discuss climate and energy targets at their next summit in June, while the Commission has been asked to present a plan to reduce the EU’s dependence on energy imports.