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

 

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.

Commission investigates state aid for power companies – Greenpeace comment

Press release | April 29, 2015 at 11:30

Brussels - Reacting to today’s announcement by the European Commission that it is conducting a probe into state aid for power companies, Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Tara Connolly said:

EU leaders move forward on Paris climate deal but struggle to shrug off coal, Greenpeace

Press release | March 19, 2015 at 21:07

Brussels – The EU’s domestic energy plans are struggling to keep up with its climate change diplomacy, warned Greenpeace after a summit of European leaders in Brussels.

Commission releases garbled energy union plan

Press release | February 25, 2015 at 11:30

Brussels – The European Commission has released a patchwork of policies as its plan for a European energy union, said Greenpeace.

EU 2030 targets just an opening bid – more carbon cuts required ahead of Paris summit

Press release | October 28, 2014 at 17:10

Luxembourg/Brussels - The EU must step up its carbon target ahead of the climate summit in Paris in December 2015, said Greenpeace commenting on today’s environment Council. Environment ministers met to agree the EU’s position for the...

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