CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
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EU action against climate change
Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face. Unless global action is taken quickly to stabilise the rising temperature of the earth’s surface, there is likely to be irreversible and catastrophic damage.
The EU adopted an integrated energy and climate change policy in December 2008, including ambitious targets for 2020. It hopes to set Europe on the right track – towards a sustainable future with a low-carbon, energy-efficient economy – by:
cutting greenhouse gases by 20% (30% if international agreement is reached)
reducing energy consumption by 20% through increased energy efficiency
meeting 20% of our energy needs from renewable sources.
What is at stake
Emperor penguin stranded on a floating ice floe
Global warming is happening because of large amounts of energy that humans produce and use. As our energy needs grow, so too does our dependency on fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal). These fuels – all with high CO2 emissions – now account for some 80% of EU energy consumption.
A major turnaround in energy use and production is vital for the EU to achieve its targets and fight climate change. The EU’s action will therefore address key areas such as electricity and gas markets, energy sources, consumer behaviour and closer international cooperation.
Rising to challenges and seizing opportunities
Woman worker looking at wind turbines
The EU climate change and energy strategy is in line with the EU’s drive for economic growth and job creation. Staying at the forefront of the new energy revolution will create new business and research opportunities.
Increasing renewable energy supplies at home will also lessen the EU’s dependence on imported oil and gas, making it less vulnerable to volatile energy prices and uncertain supply chains.
Individual member governments are being called on to take action, coordinated by the EU to ensure that the burden is fairly spread. Targets will be binding but will take account of national capacities.
United Nations climate change conference
The EU has played a key role in developing the two international treaties addressing climate change, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, agreed in 1997. These are important achievements, but recent scientific evidence shows that much more ambitious global action is now needed to prevent climate change from reaching dangerous levels.
At the UN climate change conference in December 2009 the EU gave its support to the “Copenhagen Accord”, considering that this represents the first step towards a legally binding global treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2013.
Europe has made an unconditional commitment to cut its emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, and this is being implemented through binding legislation. At the Copenhagen conference the EU reiterated its readiness to scale up this reduction to 30% provided other industrialised countries commit to comparable emission reductions and developing countries contribute adequately to the global effort.
Europe has pledged financial assistance of €7.2 billion over the period 2010-12 to help developing countries make a fast start on strengthening their capacities to tackle climate change.
Sun rising over the horizon
The average global temperature is already almost 0.8°C higher than in the pre-industrial era. There is a broad scientific and political consensus, recognised by the Copenhagen Accord, that warming must be kept below 2°C to avert dangerous levels of climate change.
To stay within this temperature limit, worldwide emissions must stop rising before 2020, must be cut by at least half of their 1990 levels by 2050, and must continue to fall thereafter.
The EU’s goal is to ensure that an ambitious and legally binding global treaty to achieve these objectives is agreed at the UN climate change conference in Mexico City in November 2010.
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CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)