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emissionsOn Friday, European Union leaders agreed to a new emissions benchmark: A 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030.

At a gathering in Brussels, EU leaders also agreed upon new targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, with an enforceable standard of a 27 percent market share of renewable energy for the overall European Union by 2030, though not necessarily at this rate on an individual national basis. The energy efficiency goal of 27 percent improvement, however, is not mandatory, according to the Guardian.

The new EU agreement sets the stage for Europe to be seen as a leader in emissions management heading into the upcoming global climate summit in Lima this December, and the pivotal 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

“The agreement today keeps Europe firmly in the driving seat in the international climate talks ahead of the Paris Summit next year and the very close meeting in Lima [in December 2014],” said Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president. “No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU.”

However, there was a significant degree of pushback and requests for special exemptions from many EU nations. Most notably, Poland – which, as The Guardian notes, still gets the majority of its energy from coal-fire plants — threatened to block the agreement if it did not receive a 15 to 20 billion Euro concession under the EU’s Carbon Trading policies to bolster costs. Poland will largely use these concessions to modernize its coal power systems, which is a cause for outrage among many detractors of the agreement.

Julia Michalak of Climate Action Network Europe told the Guardian that, “a continuation of free emission permits for Poland’s coal-reliant energy system would be a grave mistake. Leaders who came to Brussels to agree new historic climate goals, are actually discussing whether to hand out money to Europe’s dirtiest power plants.”

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