High-profile protests against Cuadrilla Resources earlier this year brought the European shale debate to the forefront of the discussion over Europe's energy future. Cuadrilla Chief Executive Officer Francis Egan stressed that there were understandable environmental concerns associated with fracking but said the benefits of shale exploration would soon become "crystal clear."
Potocnik argued that, while member states like Romania have a right to determine their own energy mix, they've also agreed to joint policies for Europe's future. By 2020, member states are supposed to cut CO2 emissions, increase the share of renewables, and improve energy efficiency by 20 percent against a 1990s benchmark.
To avoid dramatic increases in temperature over the long term, the commissioner said EU members need to cut their CO2 emissions by as much as 95 percent by 2050. Though some countries are doing better on specific benchmarks, no member is now within sight of the 2020 goalpost.
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"Whether shale gas becomes a success story in Europe or not, whether it is profitable or not, we need to remain consistent with our long-term strategy of a low carbon, resource-efficient economy," Potocnik said. "Just as we must do everything necessary to sustain and improve our global European competitiveness, we must also do everything necessary to live within the limits of our planet."
—By Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com. This story originally appeared on Oilprice.com. Click here to read the original story.