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


Slovenian EU presidency failing to take EU driving seat

Press release | April 24, 2008 at 0:00

With only two months of the Slovenian EU presidency left to go and a number of crucial environmental issues on the agenda, Greenpeace has warned that Slovenia must sharpen up its act if it wants to leave a lasting mark on the EU political scene.

Franco-German duo threaten dodgy deal on car emissions

Press release | April 10, 2008 at 0:00

Brussels, Belgium — The deceptive duo of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel could cut a climate-bashing backroom deal seriously undermining Europe’s attempts to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars,...

A non-summit for climate

Press release | March 14, 2008 at 15:34

Brussels, Belgium — EU leaders and the Slovenian Council presidency have failed to show climate leadership and given in to protectionist pressures in favour of heavy industry, said Greenpeace in a statement today.

EU summit should raise climate stakes

Press release | March 13, 2008 at 10:04

Brussels, Belgium — With climate change at the top of the spring summit agenda, EU leaders meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow should increase their ambition to fight climate change, said Greenpeace in a statement.

Greenpeace media briefing - Environment Council (3 March 2008)

Publication | February 29, 2008 at 0:00

On Monday 3 March, EU environment ministers will have their first official debate on the Commission’s recent proposals for new legislation on climate & energy (also known as the climate & energy package) and on carbon dioxide emissions from...

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