Commitment to low-carbon economy
The targets were set by EU leaders in March 2007, when they committed Europe to become a highly energy-efficient, low carbon economy, and were enacted through the climate and energy package in 2009.
The EU is also offering to increase its emissions reduction to 30% by 2020 if other major economies in the developed and developing worlds commit to undertake their fair share of a global emissions reduction effort. The European Commission has published a Communication analysing the options for moving beyond a 20% reduction by 2020 and assessing the risk of "carbon leakage".
Promoting "green" growth and jobs
The 20-20-20 targets represent an integrated approach to climate and energy policy that aims to combat climate change, increase the EU’s energy security and strengthen its competitiveness.
They are also headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This reflects the recognition that tackling the climate and energy challenge contributes to the creation of jobs, the generation of "green" growth and a strengthening of Europe's competitiveness.
It is estimated that meeting the 20% renewable energy target could have a net effect of creating around 417 000 additional jobs, while getting on track to achieve the 20% energy efficiency improvement in 2020 is forecast to boost net employment by some 400 000 jobs.