The 27 nation EU has agreed on binding measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. German chancellor Angela Merkel says this move—envisaging major lifestyle shifts ranging from the size of car engines to mandatory low energy light bulbs—could set an example for the US, China and India to tighten their acts as well.
Few could deny these aims are highly creditble. And the unilateral move is a very positive signal for progress on coping with global warming. Yet, recall the European Commission findings of October 2006 that said emissions of the EU’s original 15 members would be just 0.6% below 1990 levels by 2010—given their current policies.
Let’s hope the rather ambitious new deal with more stringent policies reverses that dismal trend. Much will depend on its progress in green-tax plans to rationalize fuel use in industry, and on quick resolution of the misgivings of some EU members about the fresh targets.