The European Union's environmental strategy, unveiled Wednesday, has sparked the outrage of green groups who declare the proposal moves efforts to curb the climate crisis backward, not forward.
The proposal calls for an end to stronger binding renewable energy targets for the 28 EU nations, instead urging a softer Europe-wide goal of 27 percent by 2030.
Furthermore, the commission set the goal of a 40 percent cut in carbon emissions, compared to 1990 levels, by 2030—which environmental groups warn falls short of the cuts needed. Current targets call for a 20 percent reduction by 2020, which groups have long slammed as insufficient.
"[D]ata from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency and the European Commission show a 40% emissions reduction target for 2030 in fact means a 50/50 chance of exceeding the 2°C threshold," reads a statement by Friends of the Earth Europe. "By proposing a 40% target the European Commission is backing out of its commitment to limit global warming to safe levels."
The commission also rejected proposed laws regulating the notoriously dangerous and dirty shale gas extraction process known as fracking, marking a big win for this burgeoning industry in Europe.
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The proposal, which still needs approval from EU governments and the European Parliament, garnered immediate criticism, including from those protesting outside its launch.
“The January sales are on and it looks like Europe’s dirty energy companies have bagged a bargain,” declared Greenpeace EU managing director Mahi Sideridou deriding the commission's proposal as a "sell-out" plan.
The group 350.org published a tweet Wednesday declaring, "Breaking: the EU proposes disastrously low climate targets. This is not what justice and science require."
Major media outlets, including the New York Times, reported that the EU strategy was notably unambitious.
Writes Juergen Baetz for Associated Press, "There are fears the EU, long a trendsetter in climate change policies, might make it easier for the U.S., China and developing economies to dodge tougher action."