Watered down sustainable development strategy adopted

Renewables are a mainstay of the first European Union strategy on sustainable development, adopted by Europe's leaders in Gothenburg, Sweden, last month. But they failed to agree on proposals to phase out subsidies to fossil fuels by 2010 and introduce energy taxation. And while restating their commitment to Kyoto, EU government ministers also refused to adopt a proposal by the Commission, the EU's executive, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average 1% a year over 1990 levels from 2010 to 2020. Nonetheless, ministers reaffirmed their determination to follow up on Kyoto by meeting a target for renewables to supply 22% of the EU's electricity consumption by 2010. The signing of the watered down strategy was dubbed "a missed opportunity for political leadership," by Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom. But she added that the EU has made a big step forward by putting the environmental dimension of sustainable development on the same footing as economic and social development. "Gothenburg marks the start of a process, not the end. The Commission and the European Council will from now on consider progress in sustainable development every year."

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