Lisbon No. 2

The agreement reached at the March 8-9 European Summit to ensure that 20 percent of energy produced in 2020 is from renewable sources is indeed an "incredibly ambitious" goal, but it has several problems.

The agreement reached at the March 8-9 European Summit to ensure that 20 percent of energy produced in 2020 is from renewable sources is indeed an "incredibly ambitious" goal, but it has several problems. The first is that the 20 percent figure is not for every country but for the EU as a whole. Thus, if Slovak PM Robert Fico manages to agree on a lower quota with the EU, because Slovakia believes it can only get to 12 percent, it will have to find another similar sized country willing to raise its renewable energy use to 28 percent.

The other problem is that the EU will not be able to dictate renewable energy use to individual states, so it will have to rely on the good will of some states to make sacrifices for others.

Meanwhile, the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the EU to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 is is about as realistic as the goal of the Lisbon Summit of overtaking the US economically by 2010, given that the larger EU states have not yet even met the terms of the Kyoto Agreement. The recent EU summit looks like another Lisbon.

The competition between Fico and Czech PM Mirek Topolánek to arrange a "nuclear forum" in Bratislava or Prague this spring is probably more representative of the thoughts in the heads of our leaders. Windmills and solar panels will come into fashion in Slovakia not when the EU says so, but when the lobby groups backing them triumph over the nuclear and concrete lobby that currently has Fico's ear. Climate change is a stirring agenda, but Fico is not wrong if he guesses that at some future summit nuclear energy will be declared a renewable source.


Sme, March 12

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