Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband hailed the start of the countdown to a global climate change deal as Europe’s landmark environment targets were endorsed at talks in Luxembourg.
The deal agreed by EU leaders at a summit last December was formally approved by environment ministers, committing the EU to cutting CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, as well as getting at least 20 per cent of energy requirements from renewable sources and achieving an overall 20 per cent cut in energy use.
The member states will now attend a crucial climate change summit in Copenhagen in December challenging the rest of the world to match – or even beat – Europe’s pledge.
Mr Miliband commented: “Europe’s climate and energy package sends a strong signal that, even in the most challenging of economic times, it’s possible to take bold far-sighted action to cut emissions.
“The new measures will incentivise low carbon technology, dramatically boost clean green energy, and provide billions in funding for vital carbon capture and storage demonstration plants.”
He added: “President Obama’s intention to bring together world leaders to make progress on a number of key issues ahead of Copenhagen, as well as the G20’s commitment to building a green and sustainable economy, provides an injection of urgency into climate talks as we strive for a successful outcome at Copenhagen.
“This week’s UN official-level talks marks the start of that countdown in this crucial year.”
Environmental campaigners claimed the climate change deal has been so diluted by compromise trade-offs that the CO2 pledges are meaningless.
But Prime Minister Gordon Brown insists climate change accord reinforces the EU’s role in leading the world in tackling the problem.