Confronted by rising energy costs and international competition, the European Union’s executive body has recommended relaxing rules on renewable energy with a plan that doesn’t hold specific nations responsible for specific targets. The E.U.’s member states and Parliament should reject it. The E.U. has been the leader on fighting climate change; if it shies away now, similar efforts in the United States and around the world almost surely will suffer.

On a positive note, the recommendations call for creating an overall target of a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with what they were in 1990. It’s a worthy target, though environmentalists would like it to be even higher; the 28-nation bloc has reduced such emissions by 12 percent so far.

By 2030, the E.U. is supposed to get more than a quarter of its energy from renewables. The plan would eliminate binding agreements under which each member would have to meet certain targets. Which nations would be responsible for attaining the 2030 goal and how would they be held to it? It’s unclear.

No one said that reducing the threat of climate change would be cheap in the short term or that the world’s economies would adjust easily. Nevertheless, it’s the failure to act that, in the long run, would have far greater costs.