Europe - more climate talk than walk

Activists entered a heavily guarded EU summit to tell European leaders to boost their climate commitments to save a climate summit in Copenhagen.

The EU likes to present its climate policies as a model for global green development. In fact, its current target - to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020 against 1990 levels - is shamefully unambitious and fails to provide an incentive for action or technological innovation. Having made over 17 percent reductions by 2009, the EU has years to make just a few percent reductions, a target it will meet under a business as usual scenario.

Greenpeace is calling on the EU to increase its domestic climate target to 30 percent as a first step. There are strong environmental and economic arguments for doing so. A study by Oxford and Sorbonne Universities, among others, found that a 30 percent target could create a net six million new European jobs by 2020. Shifting away from fossil fuels will help shield Europe’s economies from ever unstable fuel prices. These are among the reasons why Unilever, Philips, Google and Axa are among nearly 100 major companies now calling on EU governments to support a 30 percent climate target.

Less developed parts of the EU, particularly Central and Eastern Europe, can unlock significant investments in carbon reduction and energy modernisation under a 30 percent climate target. To achieve this, the EU should create financial mechanisms for this region to mobilise private investment in, for example, buildings renovation, industrial energy efficiency and energy infrastructure programmes. This would deliver fuel cost savings, energy security and new jobs.

Greenpeace advocates strengthening the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which threatens to worsen rather than resolve Europe’s emissions. The EU should auction rather than give out free emission allowances, working within the market system to efficiently reduce the cost of climate action, maximise benefits and eliminate windfall profits. The scheme could and should be a driver for domestic emission reductions, geared to a 30 percent climate target. Any ‘carbon offset’ projects should be subject to strict criteria to guarantee real emissions cuts.

Internationally, the EU should be at the heart of a coalition to deliver a new international climate regime in the next years. This requires effective cooperation with progressive industrialised countries and emerging economies within and beyond the UN climate negotiations.

 

EU leadership could deliver headlines we would all be proud about

The latest updates

 

Tighten rules on subsidies for coal, says European Parliament draft plan

Press release | June 21, 2017 at 17:36

Rules governing subsidies for coal power plants should be tightened, according to a draft plan published today by MEP Krišjānis Kariņš. Kariņš said that so-called ‘capacity mechanisms’, whereby governments pay old coal and nuclear plants to stay...

EU-China statement must lead shift to renewables, Greenpeace

Press release | June 1, 2017 at 12:21

Brussels, 1 June – The EU and China’s renewed commitment to fighting climate change must be backed up by a decisive shift to renewable energy, said Greenpeace. The EU-China joint statement comes amid reports of an imminent US withdrawal from the...

European Parliament fires up Europe’s energy transition

Press release | May 22, 2017 at 15:30

European Parliament proposals to increase the EU’s share of renewable energy to a minimum of 35 per cent, and to set binding targets for each EU country, are a step in the right direction, said Greenpeace.

EU could retake climate leadership under new EP plan to boost renewables

Press release | May 17, 2017 at 15:41

A new plan by key members of the European Parliament would help the EU retake global leadership on climate change, just as the US dithers on its commitments under the Paris climate agreement, said Greenpeace.

Open letter to Tusk, Juncker and Tajani on EU-China summit

Publication | May 3, 2017 at 11:11

Greenpeace wrote to EU Council president Donald Tusk, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament president Antonio Tajani calling on them to use the EU-China summit to lead on action against climate change.

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