The European Union’s target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 has been criticised by environmental groups.
The EU Environment Council agreed to submit the formal pledge to the United Nations ahead of the climate change talks in Paris in December this year.
The conference in the French capital is aimed at seeking a new global deal to tackle climate change.
Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy said: “I am proud the EU is able to submit this ambitious and timely contribution. It is our fair share of what has to be done to achieve the internationally agreed below 2°C target. In Paris, we will have a real opportunity to conclude an agreement that will help the world avoid dangerous climate change.”
UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey referred it as “a symbolic moment”.
He added: “The UK has led the way on climate change and by working closely with other member states the EU’s contribution is more ambitious than many thought possible.
“The world must now match our ambition and avoid the worst effects of climate change – our children’s future rests on it.”
Green groups however believe the target “fails the 2°C test”.
Asad Rehman, Senior Campaigner on International Climate at Friends of the Earth said: “This limited ambition from the European Union means it has surrendered its chance to lead from the front on the inevitable shift away from dirty energy.
“Both people and the planet will suffer as the EU has ignored the climate science and failed to pledge its fair share of global effort.”
WWF agreed the pledge is “thin on details and low in ambition”.
Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy at WWF European Policy Office added: “Ministers are applauding themselves for submitting their climate commitment before the deadline but they should be aiming for much more than that.
“The EU needs to get its act together. Its leaders may be used to settling for weak compromises because of internal battles but the outside world will show little understanding – they rightly expect Europe to stand on the high ground it claims at every UN conference and not just to point up to it from below.”