Confronted by rising energy costs and international competition, the
On a positive note, the recommendations call for creating an overall target of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with what they were in 1990. It's a worthy target, though environmentalists would like it to be even higher; the 28-nation bloc has reduced such emissions by 12% so far. By 2030, the EU is supposed to get more than a quarter of its energy from renewable sources. But the plan would eliminate binding agreements under which each member nation would have to meet certain targets. So which nations would be responsible for attaining the 2030 goal and how would they be held to it? That's unclear. In addition, the plan would loosen environmental regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas.
Driving the changes are concerns about the struggling European economy. With energy costs higher because of reduced reliance on cheaper fossil fuels, European businesses are in a weak position to compete with those in nations without strong environmental rules.
The sluggish economy has also exposed a weakness in the EU's cap-and-trade program, in which carbon emissions are capped and polluters are allowed carbon credits that they can trade with one another. When business is slow, there are more plants with carbon credits to sell than there are customers for those credits.
European government leaders who back the plan have a point: The continent can't afford to be the only one trying to make real inroads on global warming. But at a