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


Paralysed EU unable to make a difference in Copenhagen

Press release | December 18, 2009 at 23:27

Copenhagen/Brussels, International — The greenwashed declaration made by world leaders in the dying hours of the Copenhagen climate conference today was aided by the EU’s reluctance to use its political muscle in the negotiations, said Greenpeace...

Greenpeace calls on EU to commit to 30% emission cuts

Press release | December 18, 2009 at 15:40

In the last hours of the Copenhagen climate summit where industrialised and developing countries are negotiating a global agreement, the EU has been remarkable only for its silence, said Greenpeace today. A number of major EU leaders have been...

EU summit misses opportunity to boost global climate talks

Press release | December 11, 2009 at 12:38

Just as Greenpeace activists were being released by Belgian police following a daring action at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, European governments admitted that they have failed to increase their emission reduction target to an...

Eleven Greenpeace activists arrested following daring action in Brussels

Press release | December 10, 2009 at 23:30

BRUSSELS, International — Greenpeace activists evaded tight security at an EU summit in Brussels earlier today with a peaceful action calling on European leaders to increase their commitments to cut greenhouse gases and boost ongoing global...

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