Hedegaard secures EU climate deal

New EU framework shoots to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent

Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate commissioner and former Danish climate minister, secured a framework for the EU’s climate and energy future on Wednesday.

Among the highlights of the agreement is a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 40 percent below the 1990 level, a binding 27 percent target for renewable energy and renewed ambitions for energy efficiency policies.

“In spite of all those arguing that nothing ambitious would come out of the Commission today, we did it," Hedegaard said. "A 40 percent emissions reduction is the most cost-effective target for the EU and it takes account of our global responsibility. That is why it matters that the Commission is proposing today a binding EU-level target.”

READ MORE: Climate plan presented to help reach ambitious emissions targets

Climate minister praises deal
Denmark's current climate minister, Martin Lidegaard (R), said that the EU Commission framework was an important step ahead of the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris, where a global climate deal to replace the expiring the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be reached. 

"The goal of a 40 percent reduction in CO2 ensures that the EU maintains its ambitious climate and energy policies due the benefit of business and residents who will receive a stable framework for their investments," Lidegaard said in a press release. "This will mean that Europe will limit its dependence on imported fossil fuels and will ensure that the EU can credibly enter the global climate talks in Paris in 2015."

READ MORE: Climate minister satisfied by UN conference

Green organisations say it doesn't go far enough
Climate organisations were less thrilled with the deal, however.

Greenpeace said that the emissions target should have been at least a 55 percent reduction. 

"The suggested goal of 40 percent will in practice only amount to 33 percent due to the over two billion tonnes of surplus quotas in the EU's carbon trading scheme [the ETS]," Greenpeace's Tarjei Haalan told Ritzau.

WWF Denmark praised Hedegaard's efforts but said the plan did not go far enough. 

"The goal of 27 percent renewable energy is way too low if we are to seriously address the climate changes facing us," WWF's Hanne Jersild said in a press release. "It is also a disappointment that the goal only applies to the EU as a whole and is not binding for individual counties."

Hedegaard said that there is still work to be done. 

"The details of the framework will now have to be agreed, but the direction for Europe has been set," she said. "If all other regions were equally ambitious about tackling climate change, the world would be in significantly better shape.”