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


Greenpeace comment on Environment Council’s discussion on dieselgate

Press release | October 26, 2015 at 12:29

Brussels – EU environment ministers at today’s council meeting in Luxembourg will discuss the manipulation of emission control systems in cars and the introduction of real driving emission tests. Austria and Denmark, supported by France, Slovenia...

TTIP negotiators contemplate systematic dismantling of environmental standards,...

Press release | October 23, 2015 at 11:22

Brussels – Negotiators at EU-US trade talks ending in Miami later on Friday have discussed a system to weaken environmental standards that stand in the way of corporate interests, said Greenpeace. The talks are taking place against a backdrop of...

Volkswagen's lies show need for real emissions tests

Blog entry by Aaron Gray-Block | October 15, 2015

Caught red-handed for cheating on diesel emissions tests, German carmaker Volkswagen's actions in putting profits before public health have underscored the need for urgent reforms of car industry pollution laws. These reforms must...

Honouring courage and compassion: Peace Day 2015

Blog entry by Kumi Naidoo | September 22, 2015

I was 22 years old when I had to leave my homeland, South Africa. I had no choice. I was living underground for a year by then, to avoid being arrested. This was 1987, in the midst of one of the most bloody and violent periods in the...

EU adopts weak position for Paris climate summit

Press release | September 18, 2015 at 13:30

Brussels - Environment ministers meeting in Brussels today adopted a weak EU negotiating position for global climate talks in Paris in December, said Greenpeace. The EU aims to cut domestic emissions by at least 40% in 2030.

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