Renewable Energy Directive
Adopted in 2009, the Renewable Energy Directive sets binding targets for renewable energy. The new law focuses on achieving a 20% share of renewable energy in the overall EU energy mix by 2020. Every member state has to reach individual targets for the overall share of renewable energy in energy consumption. In addition, in the transport sector, all member states have to reach the same target of a 10% share of renewable energy.
Eco-labelled products adhere to eco-friendly criteria set by governments, associations, NGOs or Standard Certification Bodies. The criteria are based on extensive research into the product's life cycle impact on the environment. Furthermore, the eco-label is required to be audited by a third party to ensure that the criteria are fulfilled.
Guarantees of Origin
Guarantees of Origin (GO) are issued electronically for a controlled quantity of electricity generation, preferably from renewable energy sources. 1 GO equals 1 MWh and is traded and redeemed (i.e. used or cancelled) by suppliers as evidence to their customers of the quality of the electricity delivered.
Carbon footprint analysis
A Carbon Footprint Analysis (CFA) provides a detailed account of greenhouse gas emissions. The most accurate method of analysis is to apply Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in performing a Carbon Footprint Analysis. Defining the scope of and accounting principles used in the CFA is critical for success. The most widely used principle is the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG).
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a structured, international method (ISO-series 14040-48) used to analyse and document the environmental impact of any product, process or company. It takes into account both direct and indirect impacts, and adopts a "cradle-to-grave" approach. A complete LCA considers a wide range of environmental aspects. When a life cycle perspective is applied for a Carbon Footprint Analysis (CFA), greenhouse gas emissions are the only issue that is addressed.
The European Commission set ambitious goals to increase the use of renewable energy to a 20% share of overall energy consumption by 2020. This will directly affect 27 countries and more than 500 million people. These targets are important commitments in addressing climate change, curbing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing the use of polluting energy sources.
As the world's environmental problems were growing, the United Nations established the Brundtland Commission in 1983, which defined the notion of sustainable development. Sustainable development seeks to ensure that society meets its current generation needs without affecting the expectations of the coming generation.
Greenhouse Gas Protocol
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) was developed by the World Resource Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard provides a step-by-step guide for companies to use in quantifying and reporting their GHG emissions.
Norway and Sweden agreed to increase renewable electricity production by 26.4 TWh by 2020, and introduced a common el-certificate market from January 2012. The El-certificate system is a support scheme that makes it more profitable to invest in new renewable production capacity. When a production plant is approved for the el-certificate support scheme, support will be given for 15 years based on the plant's production output. One El-certificate is equivalent to 1 MWh and is issued, delivered and redeemed electronically. El-certificates are traded in the market and the price set by demand. All electricity providers and consumers are obliged to buy el-certificates for a specified quota of electricity sold or consumed.