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Planet Ark World Environment News EU Lawmakers Eye Bold Targets for Renewable Energy

Date: 26-Sep-07
Country: BELGIUM
Author: Marcin Grajewski

EU leaders reached agreement in principle in March that 20 percent of the bloc's energy should be produced from renewable fuels by 2020 as part of its drive to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, blamed in part for global warming.

In a special report, the European Parliament vowed to defend that deal from being watered down in negotiations with the bloc's 27 governments next year, after the executive European Commission translates it into draft legislation in December.

"The report was approved with a huge majority. It is a very important sign to the Commission and countries that they should take seriously the target," the report's author, Danish social democrat Britta Thomsen, told a news conference.

The parliament said that to give the legislation teeth, it should contain binding renewable energy targets for particular sectors -- electricity, heating and transport -- rather than just a general goal.

The Commission should also propose quickly national targets for renewable energy production, which is expected to be a major sticking point in negotiations, as some countries are certain to fight for small quotas.

With the March deal's general 20 percent target for the EU, some countries may be allowed to have fewer renewables in their energy mix and others more, such as those where hydroelectric or solar energy can be produced easily.

Renewables now account for less than 7 percent of the EU energy mix.

The renewables target is part of a wider strategy that also calls for emissions of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, to be cut by 20 percent by 2020, or even 30 percent if major nations such as the United States and China follow suit.

The parliament said it would resist any attempt to treat nuclear energy as a substitute for renewables.

Although EU leaders agreed that nuclear energy cannot be treated as renewable, they also pledged to respect current national energy mixes in deciding future targets.

France, where 70 percent of electricity comes from nuclear power, has insisted that atomic power play a role in the EU's drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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