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


A ‘climate package’ that works

Press release | December 2, 2008 at 0:00

Brussels, Belgium — A Greenpeace-commissioned report presented today demonstrates how Europe can significantly reduce its emissions while strengthening its economy, if EU leaders boost the ambition of the climate and energy legislative package...

Analysis of the EU standard on car emissions

Publication | December 1, 2008 at 0:00

The EU’s first standard on CO2 emissions from passenger cars has beed devised to never reach its stated objective of an average 130 grams CO2 per kilometre from new cars.

EU car emissions deal: much ado about nothing

Press release | December 1, 2008 at 0:00

Brussels, Belgium — After months of fierce lobbying in Brussels, the EU has agreed an empty deal to reduce car emissions, giving in to industry pressure to delay the legislation, to weaken proposed targets and to reduce penalties for...

Greenpeace press reaction on the Commission‘s rescue package for carmakers and the...

Press release | November 26, 2008 at 0:00

Brussels, Belgium — Christmas has come early for the automotive industry, after the European Commission pledged to deliver a generous rescue package of €5 billion in 2009 despite the industry’s resistance to legislation to reduce car CO2 emissions.

A week ahead of Poznan - where is Europe’s climate leadership?

Publication | November 25, 2008 at 0:00

In a week’s time Europe’s Environment Ministers will go to Poznan to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP14), a crucial milestone in negotiations for a global deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012. The EU’s energy...

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