THE European Commission in Brussels has worked with commendable speed to report on how the European Union should meet the challenges identified at the United Nations Global Warming/Climate Change Conference held in Bali in December. Yesterday's plan may only be a first step but it sets out in outline what each of the EU's 27 member states will have to contribute to ensure that an overall target of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by the year 2020 can be met. At the Bali conference the EU started by proposing a 25 to 40 per cent reduction but were beaten back by opposition elsewhere; the Commission has apparently decided, perhaps rightly, that it is better to set a target for which there is likely to be general support. For Britain the Commission's plan will involve a huge expansion of renewable energy generation; in a matter of a dozen years technologies such as wind, wave and tidal power will have to reach almost half of the national total - an expansion from the existing five per cent to almost 40 per cent. Wind energy will probably have to contribute the most. Each of the EU's 27 countries will face similar challenges and some will complain but it cannot be repeated often enough that if urgent action is not taken to curb climate change soon even greater problems will develop as time is lost. The EU has set a good example by developing this report so speedily and comprehensively.


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