BRUSSELS (AFP) — EU governments and the European Parliament agreed Tuesday on a bill obliging Europe to use renewable sources for 20 percent of its energy needs by 2020, negotiators told AFP.
The goal, which will require major efforts from most member states, is part of a wider EU climate change package which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and make 20 percent cuts in energy use.
The total package will be thrashed out by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, but agreement on the renewables target will make that task a little easier.
The deal will mean significant European investment in wind, wave, solar and, where possible geothermal power,
The negotiators -- from the 27 member states, the EU commission and the European Parliament -- notably agreed on the use of biofuels, which the green lobby has criticised as "wrong-headed" due to the farming land which will be required.
Each member states will be given national objectives within the European total.
The Green party rapporteur of the text, Luxembourg MEP Claude Turmes, said the deal would "make a real difference and give security to investments in renewable energy."
However, he said the inclusion of biofuels in the target "obviously leaves mixed feelings."
Under the deal, biofuels and "renewable" electricity will make up 10 percent of transport fuel in the EU by 2020. This target will be reached in part by cars and trains using "green" electricity.
The deal foresees cross-border projects whereby Italian investment, for example, could frinance a wind power project in Germany, or even outside the EU, which would go towards fulfilling Italy's national target for renewables.
Italy, which currently has little renewable energy infrastructure, gained a final concession to clinch the agreement, with agreement that the system will be reviewed in 2014.
The French EU presidency, which was negotiating in the name of the member states, also confirmed the agreement.
In Poznan, Poland -- where UN climate talks are ongoing -- green groups said they were broadly happy at the deal reached on renewable energy but voiced alarm at another aspect of the overall 2020 climate package to be thrashed out at the Brussels summit.
This aspect is about so-called effort sharing. This sets energy use reduction targets for sectors, accounting for 55 percent of EU emissions, that are not covered by trading in carbon emissions.
These sectors include agriculture, transport and households.
At a press conference on the sidelines of the December 1-12 UN climate talks, a coalition of environmental groups said the "effort-sharing" part of the EU package "is a farce."
There was no credible mechanism to ensure compliance and polluters could offset as much as two-thirds of their emissions by investing in clean-technology projects in poor countries, they said.
"This proposal, steered by the self-interest of EU member states, sets the bar far too low," said the coalition, called the Climate Action Network.
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