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


Last chance saloon for EU car emissions legislation

Press release | November 18, 2008 at 0:00

Brussels, Belgium — Negotiations on CO2 emission standards for cars could result in legislation bordering on useless, said Greenpeace following a meeting between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission today to hammer out the...

Commission puts forward lacklustre approach to a secure and sustainable energy system

Press release | November 13, 2008 at 0:00

Brussels, Belgium — The European Commission has been unable to send a clear message on energy security by once again downgrading the importance of energy efficiency and providing a lifeline to coal and nuclear energy, said Greenpeace today...

Nuclear energy cannot fulfil Europe’s energy needs and tackle climate change

Press release | November 3, 2008 at 11:16

Nuclear energy cannot fulfil Europe’s energy needs, but burdens countries with spiralling costs and constitutes an enormous threat to the environment, said Greenpeace at an EU-sponsored meeting on nuclear energy in Bratislava today.(1)

Nuclear power - Undermining climate protection

Publication | November 3, 2008 at 10:06

There is a clear scientific consensus that we must halve global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050 or suffer changes to the global climate with catastrophic consequences. Avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change requires governments...

Car industry asks taxpayers to foot the bill for its irresponsibility

Press release | October 29, 2008 at 17:37

Brussels, Belgium — The car industry is asking taxpayers to foot the bill for its irresponsibility and inaction, while continuing to churn out inefficient cars, said Greenpeace following a meeting of European politicians and leading carmakers in...

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