EEA warns against ‘business as usual’

The energy sector is still responsible for 80% of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions and renewable sources only accounted for 8.6% of final energy use in 2005, according to the continent's environmental watchdog.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has said that if Europeans stick by current policies and measures, energy consumption will continue to rise by up to 26% by 2030.

Fossil fuels will also remain the main source of energy supply if Europe continues on the path it is on now, according to the 2008 Energy and Environment Report.

Launching the report at the European Parliament, EEA executive director Professor Jacqueline McGlade said: “Business as usual is not an option for the energy sector.”

She said the move towards a low carbon society “isn’t happening fast enough to secure the future of our environment”.

Speaking before the Joint Parliamentary Meeting on Energy and Sustainable Development, Professor McGlade said: “Energy from fossil fuels is the root cause of human-induced climate change.

“The commitment of Europe to a post-carbon economy and sustainable renewable energy is essential for energy security and tackling climate change.”

Hans-Gert Pöttering, European Parliament President, said: “It is important that we Europeans now agree on a common position. How else do we want to make the US, Russia, India and China follow us?”

MEPs will vote on the EU’s proposed climate change package in mid-December.

The report found that European households have increased their electricity consumption by 31% in the last 15 years, despite an average increase of 17% in the price of their bills since the mid-1990s.

But there was also good news. Between 1990 and 2005, the 27 nations now in the EU experienced an average GDP growth rate of 2.1%, while reducing its energy-related CO2 emissions by about 3%.

By comparison, CO2 emissions increased by 20% in the US and doubled in China in the same period.

Kate Martin

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