People turning their backs to the European leadersHundreds of people gathered outside the European Council whilst leaders inside dithered on agreeing urgently needed targets to address climate change, speed up energy savings and investment in renewable energies to reduce our dependence on Russian fossil fuels and boost equitable economic growth.

What would make the 2030 strategy work?

Demonstrators denounced the lack of ambition of the 2030 climate change and energy plans proposed by the Commission and called them “dirty and dangerous”. They asked for serious, binding targets of 60% GHG cuts, 50% energy savings and a 45% share of renewables. These together with rapid rollout of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology or the early closure of fossil fuel plants are essential to keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, increasing energy security, as well as protecting democracy and freedom.

European leaders to further discuss the issue in June

The Council’s official conclusions stick to the lines of the document  leaked by Change Partnership a few days ago. Although the timetable has been moved slightly back to October 2014 for a decision to be made, this is still a long way from where we need to be. With the Climate Summit called for by Ban Ki-moon, head of the United Nations, only a few months away, European leaders are playing with their own future as well as that of every other country.

For over 30 years the EU has been at the forefront of international efforts to address climate change. It championed the creation and entry-into-force of the Kyoto Protocol, created the largest carbon market and introduced binding renewable energy and saving targets to 2020, which have kept focus on action rather than words. To not commit to 2030 targets is worrying, considering the US and China are working at breakneck speed to agree their contribution to the Paris round of negotiation (2015). The new international treaty is scheduled to be agreed there.

Although the Council admitted that current targets proposed by the Commission lack the required scientific ambition, postponing discussion and “a final decision [… ] no later than October 2014” is not good enough.

Read the full conclusions of the 20-21 March EU Council here.