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The European Union's "3 x 20" targets: Challenging enough?

The 2008 financial crisis and its consequences on the European Union economy smooth the way for achieving the 2020 emissions reduction objective.

The 2020 emissions reduction target was set up by the European Union in 2007 and therefore did not anticipate the global economic crisis followed by today's economic turmoil. Achieving a 20% GHGs emissions reduction compared to 1990 levels in 2020 is now perceived as highly probable. The next challenge would be to go beyond 20%; indeed the European Commission is considering moving to 25% (30% including international emission credits).

In this context, the European Commission is planning to postpone and reduce the allocation of emission credits in the Phase III of the European Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS), initiated in January 2013. The power sector, driven by the penetration of renewables, will represent half of the total emissions reduction potential in 2020. (...)

The limited economic growth within the European Union masks adequate energy efficiency efforts as regards to the 2020 energy efficiency objective.

Energy intensity in the European Union will continue to decrease at a regular annual rate of 1.8% between 2011 and 2020. The 2008 economic crisis and the relatively low expected economic growth will be sufficient to cover by a full three quarters the gap between the 2020 objective and the 2020 primary demand as it was initially projected when the policy was set up in 2008.