"High energy costs, declining industrial competitiveness and a recognition that the economy is unlikely to rebound strongly any time soon are leading [European Union] policy makers to begin easing up in their drive for more aggressive climate regulation," reports Stephen Castle. Officials have agreed to scrap binding renewable energy targets for individual countries and decided not to impose strict regulations on fracking. The bloc is just the latest climate leader to come in for criticism in the wake of perceived environmental policy softening.
"Officials said the new proposals were not evidence of diminished commitment to environmental discipline but reflected the complicated reality of bringing the 28 countries of the European Union together behind a policy," notes Castle. "But the proposals were seen as a substantial backtrack by environmental groups, and evidence that economic factors were starting to influence the climate debate in ways they previously had not in Europe."