AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Europe's current target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 can be reached, but raising it would be a mistake, the head of Royal Dutch Shell PLC said in an interview published Thursday.
Jeroen Van der Veer, chief executive of Europe's largest oil company, said a goal of 20 percent reduction in Europe from 1990 levels can be achieved.
''If the technology and research develop, then you can make an evolutionary step like that in 10-20 years,'' he said.
But ''you have to keep both feet on the ground,'' he cautioned. Longer term goals ''have to be achievable, because over-stretched targets can have a demotivating effect. Then people drop out.''
Van der Veer's comments were published in the Dutch business daily Het Financieele Dagblad. Shell spokesman Peter van Boesschoten said the quotes and context were accurate.
The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recommended global emissions be reduced by 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels, but the United States vetoed that guideline for inclusion in a climate ''road map'' at an international conference in Bali, Indonesia, last month.
Van der Veer said global emissions cuts will be more difficult than most people realize because developing nations will rely on coal and other fossil fuels to meet most of their increasing energy needs.
''In 2050 there will be 50 percent more energy used than now. That's a lot. People underestimate that,'' he said.