The European Commission is divided over what its climate and energy policy goals for 2030 should be, according to sources.
The EU has sought to lead the global fight against climate change, but the economic crisis has sapped the appetite of business and some member states for decisive action because of concerns over competitiveness and cost.
But commissioners have clashed in a meeting to discuss a policy announcement expected later this month on targets to succeed the 2020 EU goals on cutting emissions, improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy use, which will still require about two years of EU debate to become law.
EU sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 2030 carbon-cutting targets of 35 per cent and 40 per cent were under debate, together with a renewables goal of 24 to 27 per cent.
"The Commissioners' breakfast was inconclusive," one EU source said. "The fight will be to get the 40 per cent."
"Depending on the decision on the greenhouse gas figure, the proposal for only an indicative target on renewables will be set at either 24 per cent or 27 per cent," another source said.
The levels now under debate are a rise from 2020 goals of a 20 per cent carbon cut and a target to get 20 per cent of energy from green sources and official EU figures for 2012, the latest available, put the renewables level at 14.4 per cent and a 20 per cent carbon cut for 2020 versus 1990 has almost been met already.
But last year, EU sources said a 40 per cent carbon-cutting goal and a 30 per cent renewables level were under consideration.
"The Commission has lost its moral courage," Brook Riley, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said.
He added that the Commission was capping renewable energy and efficiency and reneging on a pledge to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the level scientists say prevents the worst consequences of extreme weather.
The divisions in the Commission reflect deep differences of opinion among the 28 EU member states with nations such as Britain wanting only a carbon goal, while Germany wants a renewables target to help achieve its "Energiewende", or shift from nuclear to green power.
Denmark wants a repeat of the 2020 three-goal formula, also including an energy savings requirement. A committee in the European Parliament yesterdat backed three new targets for 2030, but the vote was not binding.