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EU Leaders Agree on Renewables, Biofuel Mandates and Greenhouse Gas Reductions

In the meeting of the European Council this week, the heads of the EU member states agreed on binding targets on the use of renewable energy, including a 10% biofuel component in transportation, and to post-Kyoto reductions on greenhouse gases.

Their action endorses the three-year action plan toward a common European energy policy proposed by the European Commission earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

The Council emphasized the “vital importance” of achieving the strategic objective of limiting the global average temperature increase to not more than 2° C above pre-industrial levels.

he European Council reaffirms that absolute emission reduction commitments are the backbone of a global carbon market. Developed countries should continue to take the lead by committing to collectively reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases in the order of 30% by 2020 compared to 1990. They should do so also with a view to collectively reducing their emissions by 60% to 80% by 2050 compared to 1990.

The European leaders agreed to cut CO2 emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020 on their own, and by 30% if other nations commit themselves to comparable reductions.

They also set a binding target of a 20% share of renewable energies in overall EU energy consumption by 2020 and a 10% binding minimum target to be achieved by all Member States for the share of biofuels in overall EU transport gasoline and diesel consumption by 2020.

The binding character of the biofuels target is appropriate subject to production being sustainable, second-generation biofuels becoming commercially available and the Fuel Quality Directive being amended accordingly to allow for adequate levels of blending.


Rafael Seidl

Sounds good, but the EU leaders did not agree on specific goals for each country let alone how these would be met. The result is a classic papering-over-the-cracks provoked by the position taken by France (and others) that nuclear reactors be counted toward CO2 reductions and the diametrically opposed position taken by Germany (and others) that nuclear power is in fact not at all emissions-free.

Also, Poland is loath to cut back on its dependence on coal, especially now that Russia's gas will be delivered via the Baltic soon, bypassing the country and its difficult twins at the top.

What is perhaps surprising is that Chancellor Merkel - Germany currently holds the rotating presidency - was able to get 25 government to agree even to this much, after she had vigorously lobbied on behalf of the German auto industry just a few weeks ago.


This all sounds good if they manage to pull it off. Hopefully the rest of the developed countries of the world will pull through and go in with them. However the one thing I feel they missed out on was nuclear power. On top of all their renewables, they need a real baseload energy supply with low CO2 emissions, and nuclear I feel is the way to go on that one.


Yes, nuclear is critical. Otherwise, the dispatchable base load is going to be coal. Wake up, world. Now, it's up to the U.S. to join the Europeans is cutting emissions. As it is, we are only committed on a voluntary basis to decreasing the intensity of emissions which is the same as doing absolutely nothing. It will help, of course, when the chimp is out of office.


Well if thier goal is to avoid going beyond 2 c above preind they are already fairly screwed.

As for the us if deinsistarilization goes on track the us will hit those goals without even treying to. SPECIALY if we actauly manage to electrify any sizable sector of transportation as is already happening right now.

China is the 800 lb gorrila now and our rush to clean up has fed the poor dear one whopper of a nurrito suprise.


"As for the us if deinsistarilization goes on track the us will hit those goals without even treying to. SPECIALY if we actauly manage to electrify any sizable sector of transportation as is already happening right now."

Sorry, but what is "deinsistarilization"?


I presume Mr Barosso will be trading in his v10 touregs for a couple of toyota prius ,does anybody know the pluriel of prius? , maybe we should know it beacause there will be a lot more around in next few years !

Thomas Pedersen

Nuclear was recognized as being CO2-free, but not green/renewable.

I'm actually quite impressed by the compromise they managed to reach. The 20% CO2 emission cut and 20% renewable energy proved very hard for the former east-block countries to swallow, but they managed, presumably because nuclear was recognized, but not quite endorsed.

Those countries will most likely be forgiven for not reaching 20% renewable if the manage to reduce CO2 emission (with nuclear). My guess is that's why they chose to sign, which I'm all for.

I think the reasons why Europe is so fond of renewable energy, compared to other industrialized countries (USA, Australia, Canada, etc.), is that

1) we have no/insufficient indigenous sources of fuel, neither fossil nor nuclear, and we trust Russia about as far as we can throw it

2) we have lost of positive experience

3) we have a tradition of heavy government interaction when change is needed market forces do not seem to make it happen. Many European national grids are still owned by government

4) we actually believe that global warming is a serious issue and trying to ameliorate it is the low risk option, even from a financial viewpoint.

5) renewable energy is more labour intensive (that's why it's more expensive), which helps create jobs.


I read my post 3 freaking times before I posted it and still I didnt catch that...I am the elmer fud of proofreading.

Lets see if I can getit right this time.. de indistrializationOh greakin cruf just less factories dangit all. Sheesh im only 39 im too young to be this blated senile!


I read my post 3 freaking times before I posted it and still I didnt catch that...I am the elmer fud of proofreading.

Try installing the Google Toolbar. It has a really easy to use spellchecker. It will check whatever you have typed into a form. It's free, too. I use it all the time.

Warren Heath

I don't get this "nuclear is not at all emissions free". No technology is entirely emissions free, but nuclear, like wind or solar, has trivial emissions per average kwh produced over the installation lifetime.

Nuclear Fusion, namely Inertial Electrostatic Confinement, may be coming, in which case solar, wind, fission are all toast. Check out "Polywell" at Wikipedia and see the video at:


Also interesting stuff on Thorium Nuclear Reactors at:



The sad thing is that this is a positive example, compared to what the United States can muster.

Too little, too late, too bad.

Rafael Seidl

Warren -

you are thinking of gaseous emissions only, perhaps because that is how the term has been used in the US. Solid waste is also an emission, especially if it's highly radioactive. You may dismiss that as trivial - virtually nobody else does.

I do agree that all forms of power generation produce some environmental degradation: rooftop solar panels change the look and feel of architecture, solar parks consume vast areas of (desert) land, windmills spoil views and leave behind giant concrete blocks, hydro dams swallow entire valleys and whatever was in them, widespread energy crop production can changes the vegetation of entire regions etc.

Is any of this more or less acceptable than CO2-belching coal-fired furnaces or nuclear reactors and their waste? That is a political decision and, I suspect most voters would prefer renewables if the cost per kWh were acceptable. So far, it generally isn't, so renewables are subsidized with public money. Part of the reason is that every other form of energy, from oil to gas to coal to nuclear, is also subsidized in some form.

Fusion has been advertised as the holy grail of electricity generation much as fuel cells have for automotive propulsion. While breakthroughs are possible, the smart money says both of these are White Elephants paid for by the taxpayer to let entrenched industries continue their existing operations for as long as possible.


Actauly is batteries that were and are the holy grail for cars fuel cells were just a way to augment weaker forms of batteries until the holy grail battery comes.

H2 is the holy grail FUEL tho.

Warren Heath

Rafael, I don’t think it is accepted nor appropriate to call nuclear waste an “emission”. If you want to go that route you will have a very complicated evaluation of all forms of energy production. Is the noise from windmills an emission? Certainly, nuclear waste is a controversial issue, and there are many ways to address that issue, each with a large set of environmental considerations. For instance, almost all the high level nuclear “waste” can be burned efficiently in an IFR reactor, and produce huge amounts of energy, and eliminate the destructive effects of uranium mining (is that an “emission” as well?).

You are being simplistic regarding nuclear fusion. This new possibility of the Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion, has not even been vetted yet, by experts in the field. Having seen the video, and with my limited knowledge, it sounds very feasible to me, and the basic theory is proven (even a high school student in Michigan successfully built a Farnsworth fusor and achieved fusion). Certainly it would be ludicrous for you or me to conclude anything on its potential economic viability. The field is dynamic and many possibilities could succeed. I just saw a new idea in Science Daily today:

It is inevitable that sooner or later economically viable nuclear fusion will be achieved. The trillion dollar question is when?



You mix together two different things: emission and waste. Emission is, well, “emitted” to the environment and pollutes it. Coal plants emit SO2, NOx, HC, dust, heavy metals (including mercury), and even radioactive elements. Extensive flue gas aftertreatment in developed countries dramatically decreased amount of emission from coal power plants, but totally eliminate harmful emission from flue gases is impossible even theoretically.

Waste in general could be destroyed, or permanently confined. Nuclear waste could be largely “destroyed” in special reactors (with surplus of energy production), or buried. Because amount of nuclear waste is minuscule in volume, it could be done in safe manner, and radioactive waste will never be emitted into environment.

The problem is that if emitted (and it is big IF), it will have terrible and devastating effect. So, there is the choice: coal power plants emitting 24/7 low level (at least low concentration) of pollutants, or nuclear power plants with zero emission, but with small (actually, very small) probability of disastrous emission event.

Rafael Seidl

Warren, Andrey -

I don't think we should spend too much time discussing the semantics of "emissions". My point is simply that regardless of what may or may not be technologically possible in terms of nuclear waste minimization and permanent storage, the fact is that is has proven politically impossible to secure public acceptance for these technologies in democratic countries. Ergo, six decades into the nuclear age, the core problem of what to do with the waste remains essentially unresolved.

IMHO, it is not appropriate to simply keep kicking this particular ball forward to future generations. Not to mention decommissioning costs, accident risks and the possibility of terrorist attacks and/or covert nuclear weapons proliferation.

Warren Heath

Rafael, the net result of anti-nuclear fanatics in the west, is that developing nations are building poorly designed, badly managed, weapons risk nuclear reactors, like there is no tomorrow. Where we could easily be selling them efficient, safe, well designed GenIII and GenIV nuclear reactors, in particular the IFR, which would burn up all high level nuclear wastes, and end uranium mining.

It's particularly hypocritical of Germany, preaching their ideas of Green Energy, when they were 100% behind efforts to sell Iran as many nuclear power reactors as they wanted, if they allowed inspections and stopped their weapons program. Iran's solar & wind resources are 10 times what Germany's are, while Iran is technologically backward, so wouldn't it make more sense for Germany to build Nuclear Reactors and Iran to use Wind & Solar? Germany is also noted for their eagerness to sell chemical & nuclear weapons production technology to any two-bit developing nation that wants it.

The tide of public opinion in the west has been turning in favor of nuclear power, and consistently has strong support in polls in most Western Nations. Even the world's foremost environmentalist, James Lovelock, has come out strongly in favor of Nuclear Energy.

Cheryl Ho

There are currently developments inDME in China today:
We see great potential for DME as a clean alternative fuel . The present diesel oil is a major source of air pollution from diesel engine of trucks and busses in large city like Tokyo. The potential market of diesel oil substitute is larger than LPG. DME is one of ideal fuel for diesel engine. DME vehicles were demonstratively manufactured in Japan, China and Korea and their driving test already started. Practical durability fleet test of a DME truck is under going in Japan.

We are pleased to organise a conference on China taking the lead in the DME market in production from coal and Japan and Korea activities.

If you would like to know more on COAL to Syngas to DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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