EU LEADERS BACK MOST AMBITIOUS CARBON EMISSIONS TARGET OF ANY MAJOR ECONOMY
On Friday, October 24, European Union leaders agreed upon a binding target to reduce emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, scaling up its previous commitment to reduce emissions to 20% of 1990 levels by 2020. EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in an interview that the move was intended to challenge other big economies ahead of climate talks in Lima in December, and ultimately Paris in 2015. “That sends a strong signal to the international community and I hope that the signal is being received today in Washington, in Beijing, and other big economies so that they will prepare their ambitions accordingly.” Hedegaard also highlighted the fact that the target is all the more ambitious because, unlike the previous target, the reductions must be met with domestic cuts rather than international offsets. The target was the result of several compromises between member countries, including concessions for Poland, which balked at potential electricity price increases, and improved cross-border power interconnections—a demand of countries like Portugal and Spain with surplus solar and wind energy to export. The deal also included targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency, specifically that by 2030 renewable energy would comprise 27% of the total and that energy efficiency would be increased by 27% compared to “business as usual.” These targets were criticized as too low by the renewable energy and efficiency industries, as well as by some environmental advocates, who argue the deal made too many concessions to industry and that the renewable energy and energy efficiency targets are not enforceable. For the full story, see: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-24/eu-sets-challenge-to-u-s-with-toughest-emissions-target.html, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/24/us-eu-summit-climatechange-reaction-idUKKCN0ID1DB20141024, and http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/23/us-eu-summit-climatechange-deal-idUKKCN0IC2PJ20141023.