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Leuenberger warms to EU energy targets


Swiss Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger has welcomed the European Union's new renewable energy targets aimed at stepping up climate protection.

But Leuenberger told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that an agreement on cutting carbon dioxide levels by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 could be difficult to implement.

EU leaders on Friday agreed to adopt a binding target of a 20 per cent increase in the use of green power, such as wind and solar energy, by 2020.

Measures could include a ban on filament light bulbs by 2010, forcing people to switch to fluorescent bulbs. The EU’s 27 members will each decide for themselves how to reach the targets.

The agreement has been hailed by the EU as “the most ambitious package ever agreed by any institution on energy security and climate change”.

Leuenberger said the targets were an “important reference point” for Switzerland, referring to the current debate in the country on green power, energy efficiency and the introduction of a CO2 tax.

But he said it could be difficult for the EU to meet its ambitious targets, particularly for CO2.

“Should I admire the fact that the it is so wide-ranging or should I already have doubts about how it will be carried out?” he said.

Swiss energy strategy

However, the minister said that Swiss energy strategy – which is due to be submitted to the full cabinet this year – went even further and that Switzerland had given itself longer to implement changes – 2030.

Specific measures would ensure that the targets would be met, said the minister. This involved encouraging more green power and a more efficient use of energy.

Nevertheless, it would be good if Switzerland “went in a similar direction and drew up similar targets” to the EU, said Leuenberger.

Switzerland was in contact with the EU over climate issues and was looking into forming a working group, he added.

Leuenberger said that the upcoming elections in Switzerland were actually a blessing for the climate and that he hoped that political parties’ pronouncements on the issue would form part of their manifestos – and not be forgotten in the future.

swissinfo with agencies

Key EU climate targets:
10% minimum target on use of biofuels in transport by 2020.
Commitment to increase use of solar, wind and hydroelectric power.
Possible ban on filament light bulbs by 2010.
The measures are aimed at forcing changes in the economy, lifestyle and business.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR