The target, against a 1990 baseline, is the EU’s contribution towards global action to curb emissions after targets under the Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012.
It was agreed at a meeting of the Environment Council on Tuesday. Ministers also agreed to raise the target to 30% if other developed countries make the same commitment and emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil make an adequate contribution. Both targets were originally proposed by the European Commission in January.
The Council urged the Commission to start work “immediately” on deciding how the target should be apportioned between member states. National targets will continue to reflect the emission baseline agreed under the Kyoto Protocol.
A post-2012 agreement should aim to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the Council said. It should include deeper absolute emission reduction commitments by developed countries and establish further contributions by other countries. It should also address emissions from aviation and maritime transport, cut emissions from deforestation and enhance carbon sinks by sustainable forest management and land use practices.
However, ministers failed to decide whether to back the Commission’s proposal that a new target for 20% of energy to come from renewables by 2020 should be binding, or to recommend that the target should be indicative. The final decision will be made at the European Council in March.
The Council also:
- Welcomed proposals for a thematic strategy on the sustainable use of pesticides.
- Rejected a Commission proposal to require Hungary to lift a ban on MON810 GM maize. The Council failed to agree on a separate proposal to authorise placing a GM carnation on the market, leaving the decision in the hands of the Commission.
- In a debate on a proposed mandatory target to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new cars, expressed overwhelming support for binding legislation.
- Unanimously agreed that aviation should be brought under the EU emissions trading scheme, but failed to agree when this should take effect. Ministers also said the scheme should apply to all flights taking off or landing in the EU, not just internal flights.