BRUSSELS - EU member states should cut greenhouse gas emissions, widely blamed for global warming, by 40 per cent by 2030, the European Commission said Wednesday, disappointing environmentalists who wanted much more.
Member states should also ensure that renewables account for 27 per cent of their energy mix by the same date, it said, unveiling its 2030 climate change package to replace a 2020 programme.
The 2020 package set a binding carbon dioxide reduction target of 20 per cent, when compared with 1990 levels, coupled with 20 per cent each for renewables and an energy efficiency gain.
The Commission, the EU's executive arm, also issued what it called "minimum principles" for exploiting shale gas through 'fracking,' a controversial process widely condemned by green groups as harmful to the environment.
Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said the package would keep Europe on track towards a low-carbon economy while ensuring it did not lose out to competitors, as many critics claim it will.
"Climate action is central for the future of our planet, while a truly European energy policy is key for our competitiveness," Barroso said.
"Today's package proves that tackling the two issues simultaneously is not contradictory but mutually reinforcing," he said in a statement.
"An ambitious 40 per cent greenhouse reduction target for 2030 is the most cost-effective milestone in our path towards a low-carbon economy.
"The 27 per cent renewables target is an important signal: to give stability to investors, boost green jobs and support our security of supply," he added.