Europe Retreats From Clean-Energy Ambitions

GERDSHAGEN, GERMANY - JUNE 22: Wind turbines producing electricity spin in a field on June 22, 2012 near Gerdshagen, Germany. Germany is investing heavily in renewable energy sources as part of a government initiative to wean the country off nuclear, and eventually coal-based, energy.  (National Journal)

Amid rising energy prices and a sluggish economic recovery, European Union officials have backed down from their clean-energy ambitions.

The European Commission on Wednesday rolled out a continent-wide proposal for Europe to produce 27 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, Bloomberg reports.

This is in contrast to an earlier proposal the commission had been weighing to propose higher clean-energy targets for each EU member nation.

While the commission did up its commitment to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by suggesting a target reduction of 40 percent in the same time period, instead of 20 percent by 2020, environmentalists balked at the less-than-hoped for clean-energy proposal.

"The commission's plan for 2030 is a sellout that would knock the wind out of a booming renewables industry," said Mahi Sideridou, Greenpeace's EU managing director.

The commission defended its proposal, saying that it would strike a balance between ambition and pragmatism.

"It will require a lot from Europe," Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate action, told The New York Times. "If all other big economies followed our example, the world would be a better place."