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


NGOs call for strong EU policies to beat the 2030 renewable energy target

Press release | June 15, 2015 at 11:00

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Greenpeace and WWF today called on the European Commission to propose a strong set of policies to ensure all countries contribute to delivering and surpassing the EU’s 2030 renewable energy target.

Commission and governments bow to coal industry pressure on air pollution limits

Press release | June 10, 2015 at 9:00

Brussels/Seville – EU government delegations that concluded a meeting in Seville late last night have backed weak limits for air pollutants from coal plants that would cause thousands of premature deaths, warned Greenpeace [1]. Over half of all...

Activists denounce industry’s control over EU decisions on coal pollution standards

Press release | June 1, 2015 at 9:46

Seville/Brussels - Fourteen activists wearing protective pollution masks held up banners reading “STOP KILLER COAL” and placed a 65 metres banner on top of Seville hotel Meliá Lebreros, where European government delegations are meeting to...

Toxic coal: counting the health cost of weak EU air pollution limits

Publication | May 20, 2015 at 0:30

MEDIA BRIEFING - Draft EU air pollution standards for coal power plants could lead to 71,000 avoidable deaths between 2020 and 2029, due to increased risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and other diseases associated with air pollution,...

Weak EU coal pollution standards could cause 71,000 avoidable deaths

Press release | May 20, 2015 at 0:30

Brussels – Weak coal pollution standards being considered by the EU could result in 71,000 preventable deaths across Europe, due to increased risk of stroke, heart disease, asthma and other illnesses associated with air pollution.

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