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Aruba, January 23, 2014 - Tempering its environmental ambitions in the face of harsh economic realities, the European Union on Wednesday proposed an end to binding national targets for renewable energy production while aiming for an overall cut of 40 percent in Europe’s carbon emissions by 2030.

Under the plans, outlined after tough internal negotiations, country-by country targets for renewable energy would be replaced by an overall objective for Europe, which would aim to increase the proportion of its energy provided by renewables to 27 percent.

The proposals, launched by the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation bloc, highlight the extent to which Europe’s deep economic crisis has forced it to scale back its aspirations to lead the fight against global warming.
The Commission also decided against proposing laws on environmental damage and safety during the extraction of shale gas by a controversial drilling process known as fracking. It opted instead for a series of minimum principles that it said it would monitor.
The European Union last outlined targets in 2007 and, after that initiative, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, described the bloc’s climate change ambitions as a fundamental test of Europe’s “capacity to lead.” Six years, a financial crisis and several disappointing attempts at international consensus later, the tone in Brussels was more one of relief than euphoria that a proposal had been agreed upon.