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A European Union flag flutters as a construction worker is seen on a building under renovation in Brussels December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir A European Union flag flutters as a construction worker is seen on a building under renovation in Brussels December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir  

EU retreats on global warming while US pushes ahead

The European Union is on the verge of rolling back much of its climate agenda, even as the United States is moving full speed ahead.

Europe will likely not require member states to expand renewable energy production beyond 2020, reports the German-based EU-Info News.

“It is becoming obvious that Europe’s unilateral climate policy, the whole green agenda of the last 20 years, has turned into an unmitigated fiasco,” Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the UK-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Even EU leaders are beginning to accept reality.”

The EU’s climate chief Connie Connie Hedegaard and EU environment commissioner Janez Potocnik remain “isolated in their push for a new target to promote green energy,” according to EU-Info News. Not even Germany’s energy commissioner Günther Oettinger supports expanding renewable energy production.

The European experience with renewable energy has been fraught with high costs and mixed results. In Germany, renewable energy policies are driving up electricity costs, leading one of the country’s foremost newspapers to declare that electricity had become a “luxury good”.

The country was attempting to get 25 percent of its power from renewables by 2050, but skyrocketing power prices have forced Germany to rethink its renewables goals. German consumers already pay the highest power prices in Europe, according to Der Spiegel, and generous renewable energy subsidies cost them about $26 billion in taxes last year.

“The promotion of green electricity costs will cost our citizens ($32.5 billion) next year, which is a lot of money that could otherwise be spent on buying new cars, furniture or on restaurant visits,” said Michael Fuchs, deputy leader of the Christian Democratic Union.

Not only Germans are demanding renewable energy reform, but EU businesses as well. The EU wants to generate 20 percent of its power from renewables by 2020 to fight global warming. But top EU business leaders are saying that renewable energy subsidies are raising power costs and putting the continent at risk for blackouts.

“We’ve failed on all accounts: Europe is threatened by a blackout like in New York a few years ago, prices are shooting up higher, and our carbon emissions keep increasing,” said GDF Suez CEO Gérard Mestrallet.

Committed EU officials want to make sure fighting global warming plays a major policy role in Europe. Currently, the only binding European-wide target on the table is requiring members to cut emissions by 35 or 40 percent by 2030.

EU-Info News reports that “the EU Commission is far removed from the European Parliament. Two committees are promoting three binding climate targets for 2030: 40 percent for CO2 emissions reduction and for improving energy efficiency, and 30 percent for renewable energy.” Though many EU countries reject the idea of Brussels-imposed climate targets.

“The old guard of green EU commissioners, however, are trying to salvage their green legacy before they leave office in the autumn,” Peiser said. “These green bureaucrats will be replaced later this year by a new set of commissioners who almost certainly will be less green and more concerned about Europe’s economic future and competitiveness.”

“The chances of the green lobby to push through any new binding renewables or climate targets are near zero,” he added.

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