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European Commission Proposes Plans for “20 20 by 2020”: 20% Cut in GHG Emissions and 20% Use of Renewable Power by 2020

The European Commission (EC) has proposed a detailed set of plans to implement the vision put forward in 2007 of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels and being ready to step up to 30% with an international agreement; and to produce 20% of power from renewable sources, all by 2020.

The package of proposed measures is the most far-reaching set of legislative proposals to be made by the EC for many years, José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the EC, said in his speech to the European Parliament today.

The package includes:

  • An updated Emissions Trading System to create a borderless ETS to drive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from big industrial emitters.

  • Specific, binding national targets so that member States know exactly what they have to do outside the ETS, in sectors like transport, buildings, agriculture and waste.

  • A new approach to actively promote renewable targets, again including binding national targets.

  • New rules to stimulate carbon capture and storage.

  • New state aid rules.

The package includes the binding minimum 10% target for biofuels in all member states that has come under increasing criticism. (Earlier post.)

Part of our mandate was the 10% target for biofuels, so that transport plays a part in emissions cuts. I want to be clear that in putting forward proposals on biofuels, we have also fully respected the other side of the mandate, the need for environmental sustainability.

So the proposal creates the most comprehensive and sustainable system anywhere in the world for the certification of biofuels – and for domestic and imported biofuels alike. We will also continue to promote the rapid development of second generation biofuels.

—José Manuel Durão Barroso

The European Biofuels Technology Platform (EBTP)—an organization of more than 100 representatives of the agriculture and forestry sectors, as well as the food, paper and biotechnology industries, the biofuels industry, oil companies, car manufacturers, universities and researchers—plans to issue a strategic research agenda for the European biofuels industry on 31 January.

The document is intended to provide a long-term view on how to overcome the technical and non-technical challenges associated with the sustainable use of biofuels in Europe.

Barroso projected the cost of the package to be less than 0.5% of GDP by 2020—about €3 per week per person.

The Commission’s plans require approval by member states and the European Parliament.


Rafael Seidl

Expect a lot of wrangling over the details, watering down and demands for opt-outs. The EU's member states jealously guard their prerogatives and generally resent having "Brussels" telling them how to run their countries. Any decisions will require the approval of both the EU parliament and the Council of Ministers, i.e. representatives of the 27 national governments. Some aspects can be decided by majority voting but others will probably require unanimity.

In nuts and bolts terms, 0.5% of GDP by 2020 is actually quite a bit of money relative to discretionary spending by national governments. The EU's own budget currently amounts to roughly 1% of the combined GDP of the 27 member states. Of that, roughly 40% is spent on farm subsidies, most of the rest on infrastructure projects in the poorer member states.

Even though it is unlikely the proposal will be adopted as is, the EU Commission is at least trying to show some leadership wrt sustainable energy security - especially in relation to the transportation sector - and by extension, wrt global warming.

Note that the proposed emissions trading system will exempt certain energy-intensive industries (e.g. cement production). Electricity generators et. al. will have to purchase their emissions certificates at auctions beginning in 2013, when the current Kyoto-related certificates expire. It's not immediately clear if the proceeds from these auctions will accrue to the EU, to member states or to individual regions.


I believe to member states, as the UK has refused to ring fence these funds for environmental programs as preferred by Barroso.


Although the objectives expressed by EU commission are not trivial to achieve, especially for EU estates with more energy intensity, but they are achievable with strong commitment. Being Portuguese, Mr. Barroso maybe felt encouraged by some developments in his country. For example, Portugal during 2007, derived 20% of its electricity from wind, 15% from solar and hydro. That was done with huge capital investments from private companies (90%) and some government help through interesting tariffs for renewable sources, especially solar. The result: three of the world biggest PV solar power stations where built in the last years. It is planned to build the largest PV solar power station in an urban environment with an output of 6MWe near my home in Lisbon. The total amount of investment for this project is around 30M€. The transport sector it is a much harder one, the 5% biofuel incorporation is being hardly met, even with the help of Brazilian feedstock imports. Don’t ask me how many acres of rain forest are being destroyed for those 5%.

Harvey D


Biodiesel is not a sustainable solution but hydro, solar and wind energies are. Portugal should be praised for what it has done to date.

Importing biofuel feed stock from Brazil should be a short term solution.

The 5% or 10% biofuel goals should also be part of the limited short term solution (gap filler) while clean energies + PHEVs and BEVs are being developed and produced in large enough quantities.

Stan Peterson

Typical blowhard watermelon Greens.

If you don't meet your previous blowhard promises, ( that you cynically never meant to do anyway), what do you do?

Expand the promises even more!! The gullible fools will once again, cheer for you...

Stan Peterson

@Harvey D,

Solar is the worst energy source to use on a large scale. It is only 12-14% efficient or so, and creates lots of waste heat for little useful energy.

In general, the more inefficient a process, the more are the deleterious effects. Or hasn't anyone ever told you about the glaring warts of solar energy? There are great problems.

Solar energy is acceptable on a small scale. To generate any appreciable energy with solar, however, you must do it over prodigious acreage. It is just too dilute a source. Despite all the hype for two generations there has been little actual implementation, despite prodigious subsidy.

Scientific American magazine posted an article about what it would take to get not all, but merely one third of the electrical energy needed for the US, using solar energy.

First they demanded half a trillion dollars of government subsidy.

They then posited and actually expected to pave over Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico with solar cells. Some 50,000 square kilometers were to be sacrificed.

The waste heat from such a process that they never discussed would likely raise the three state temperature by some 40 degrees over ambient temperatures due to the surface increased heating from a greatly reduced Albedo. The waste heat in those three States exceeds by a few magnitudes all the current energy that all mankind uses in the world today in a full year.

Now Antarctica might not mind a 40 degree rise, but when the normal summer temperature is is 115 degrees already, an additional 40 degrees would barbecue every living thing in those three states. There are very few members of the Terran biota except some bacteria that can endure 155 or so degrees for long.

That is a consequence of drastically messing with the Albedo on a very large area. The environmental organization, SPARE US exists for a reason. Say weren't we doing this to PREVENT anthropogenic global warming?

Similarly, No one ever criticized wind power... until they built some; and predictably the warts were revealed. Like killing birds, large inputs for little output, visual and auditory eyesores that phonies like the Kennedy's fight; and rapid wear that couldn't be repaired cost effectively, left lots of blight of abandoned windmills on wind sites.

Beware of what you wish for; you just might get it.


“Expect a lot of wrangling over the details, watering down and demands for opt-outs.”

Fortunately, the emergency is gradually being called off. Each new 5 year release from IPCC downgrades both recent past and near future temperatures, yet even Jim “tipping point” Hansen says the IPCC are still too pessimistic about the rate of warming.

There’s a video with IPCC member Pat Michaels and Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute that’s worth viewing (skip it if you can’t stand the phrase “market forces”). Unfortunately, the camera stays on the speakers so you need to pay attention and imagine the visual aids.

You can view it here:


Here's Dr. Michaels speaking (in three parts) with some of the missing charts from above:



There are a lot of human activities and structures that change the albedo. For example: Roads, buildings, crops, dams, etc. The surface associated with those structures is much bigger than the one that is expected to be dedicated to solar PV. Even global warming could have a positive feedback with a bigger effect in the reduction of the albedo through the melting of the ice caps and the expanding ocean surface. I think you’re over reacting. I know you’re going to refer to the “more than perfect blackbody” argument but I think that is a little bit overkill.

Statistically the wild cat population is bigger threat to birds than windmills, even the glass windows you find in tall buildings are more dangerous for birds. Before the explosion we had in windmill installations the bird issue was a frequent argument, now nobody dare to use it.


Stan: first you deny global warming ad nauseum (filled with lots of swipes at anyone to the left Attilla the Hun), then you attack any real solutions with arguments a three year old would laugh at. You've reduced yourself to the status of local colour, fit only for a good chuckle and a shake of the head.

Stan Peterson


Someone else apparently really reads what the IPCC scientists actually say. Not what the political bureaucrats say they said, as they put words in their mouth. And not just distort, but turn the meaning completely upside down.

When warming was first proposed as a human caused activity, the only variable seemed to be GHGs. So it was assigned a power for all "Measured" warming.

As Science always does, the hypothesis was proposed, tested, and is increasingly being found wanting. Several other sources, for the possible warming that is occurring, none of which can be caused or controlled by Man, are being delineated and calibrated. As each assumes it proper position, the default assumed power of GHGs, is then reduced.

The variable out put from the SUN, the regulated cosmic ray sources altering cloud formation, as modified by the Solar wind, turn out to be the primary sources and much more powerful than GHGs. The various GHG Gasses, variations in the Earth's orbit, natural variability, periodic sea temperature oscillations like ENSO, et cetera are all being measured and calibrated.

Several erroneous co-assumptions, such as the unique proposed ability of CO2 to only be released but not equally absorbed by the Sea, have been tested and found to be in error. CO2 is now proven to act like every other mixture of a soluble gas-liquid interface. CO2 does not stay in the Atmosphere for long, as Henry's Law now re-affirms and measurements of radioactive CO2 from atmospheric Nuclear tests confirm. Only 5.7 years on average, and certainly not for tens or hundreds of years as the AGW proposers feared, with their proposes one-way buffers.

The IPCC has promised to remove that artificial prop in the next 5 year review. That alone will shrink GHG power by 90% or more.

Meanwhile all the GHGs gasses, except CO2 have now been brought under control, as Man cleans his environment.

The power and ability of AGW to alter the climate via GHG emissions is constantly being shrunk into insignificance.

Besides it is not clear at all that a little natural warming is not wholly beneficial and not calamitous. Expanded growing seasons, and more food creates wealth.

The golden ages of human civilization have occurred during warm periods; and been disrupted in cold periods. Greece and Rome and Han empires fell when it got cold, as it drove starving Northerners, South into their territories. The religious wars closed the Renaissance when it grew colder, and set Man against Man, once again.

There is even some question now about how much warming has actually occurred as the US and worldwide temperatures measurements have been shown to be very sloppy. Satellite measurements available only since 1979 do not agree with earth based measurements. Moreover the Earth based measures are disrupted by the collapse of the Soviet Union that closed many colder, northern measurement sites.

Even the level of pre-industrial CO2, is coming into question as todays' scientists review the work of 18th and 19th century Scientists. Work that was previously ignored even though it included observations from as many as four differnt Nobel Prize awardees. CO2 as measured by these Nobel laureates, turns out to be much more variable and much higher level than the presumed pre-industrial level as deduced, but not measured, from ice core analysis.

Karl-Uwe Strunzen

I am confident of the measures being finally adopted by the EU. This is primarily for two reasons.
Firstly, nearly all EU countries are already trying to take huge steps in this direction but are aware that an EU-wide measure is the only effective way forward.
Secondly these steps are not drastic at all when one considers that the EU is a Kyoto signatory and the recent EU position adopted in Bali.

DRD T-bone

While I disagree with your overestimation of the effect of solar panel driven albedo change, I'm curious where you found the 5.7 year value for CO2's atmospheric life, do you have a link/source for that?




Curiosity prompted me to go looking so here you go.

The textbook answer is:
"On average a carbon atom spends about 5 years in the atmosphere, 10 years in terrestrial vegetation, and 380 years in intermediate and deep ocean waters. Carbon can remain locked up in ocean sediments or fossil fuel deposits for millions of years."

A very lengthy dissertation maintains:
"Both radioactive and stable carbon isotopes show that the real atmospheric CO2 residence time (lifetime) is only about 5 years, and that the amount of fossil-fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is maximum 4%."

Hope that helps,

Jesse 67

Stan, I'm wondering what exactly you are arguing for? If you're not interested in supporting people who are trying to help the environment why are you on this site?
Who cares what your reasons are for changing things for the better as long as you're trying to change them for the better right? If you want to think that the best reason for these changes is that reducing our output of CO2 will slow global warming then so be it. If you want to think that the best reason is it saves you your hard earned cash then great! But we should all remember that reducing our output of GHGs requires consuming less, and this in its very nature saves us money, reduces our required resources (be them renewable or non),
reduces our impact on the environment etc etc.

If the earth's entire wealth of all natural resourses were averaged over the land surface of the planet and divided up acording to a person's "requirements", how much land would you require to maintain your current lifestyle? Would there be enough room on the planet for everybody?
Who are you going to kick off?
(please don't answer that anyone! )

Its not just GHGs that are affected here, reducing our global footprint helps everybody.

If your life was a "car" would it be a gas guzzler V-8 4x4? or a clean diesel? how about a peddle bike?

oh and good luck to the EU! Hopefully they are successful and maybe we here in north america can learn a thing or two from them.


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