Europe fails to achieve renewables target at Earth Summit

3 September 2002 – The European Union yesterday abandoned its goal of including a fixed target for energy production from renewable sources in the draft declaration agreed at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in a compromise, which saw the inclusion of targets for clean water and sanitation.

The European Union wanted the world to aim to get 15 per cent of the earth’s energy from renewables by 2010. The United States and Japan were opposed to any target. But green groups criticized the EU’s target, saying that without defining “renewables,” it would encourage the building of large environmentally damaging hydro dams and do nothing to reduce poor countries’ reliance on firewood and dung for energy.

The failure of the EU to gather support from developing countries, many of whom would find the target daunting and who feared that it would hold back economic and social development, meant that the proposal had to be dropped and instead the declaration contains a commitment to take “urgent action” to increase the global share of renewable energy.

Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary who headed the British delegation described the outcome as “truly remarkable”, but Charles Secrett, director of Friends of the Earth, said, ” It is a total betrayal of commitments to act on climate change. There is no target to increase renewable energy and there are positive attempts to promote fossil fuels”.

The cost of the summit has been estimated at à‚£30m ($46.7m) and will produce a declaration which opens up a way to establishing global rules through the UN for the areas where agreement was reached.

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