The Council of the European Union has given its stamp of approval to a climate and energy package that contains legislation designed to help
Under the terms outlined in the package, the EU has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.
One of the directives in the package aims to increase the use of renewable energy in the EU to 20 per cent.
According to the directive, each member state must adopt a national plan setting targets for renewable energy consumption in transport, electricity, heating and cooling by 2020.
Other parts of the package set out how the EU member states should reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in key sectors such as transport, agriculture and housing.
While the overall aim is to reduce EU emissions by 20 per cent, some countries, notably those with a lower gross domestic product and strong prospects for economic growth, will be allowed to increase their greenhouse gas emissions.
The package also includes rules to reduce emissions from cars.
By 2012, average emissions from new cars should not exceed 120 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre.
The automobile industry then has until 2020 to reduce emissions to 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
The council also adopted a directive establishing a regulatory framework for the geological storage of CO2.
Under the directive, operators will be obliged to monitor storage sites and report to the relevant national authorities while CO2 is being stored and after storage activities have come to a close.
Another part of the package lays down strict environmental and social sustainability criteria for biofuels.
Finally, the package includes a revision of the emissions trading system (ETS) with the aim of achieving greater emissions reductions in energy-intensive sectors such as electricity generation, cement works and the glass, pulp and paper industries, among others.
The commission first put forward the climate and energy package back in January 2008.