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

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EU leaders wake up! Make coal history

Blog entry by Joris den Blanken | August 25, 2014

This weekend I joined a unique European protest, not the usual gathering in front of Commission buildings in Brussels. Almost 8,000 people from all over Europe gathered at the Polish-German border to form an eight-kilometre long human...

Beware the omniscient scientific adviser

Blog entry by Dr. Paul Johnston | July 25, 2014

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Leaked Commission energy security plan keeps EU hooked on energy imports

Blog entry by Franziska Achterberg | May 21, 2014

As tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine in March, raising fears of disruptions to European gas supplies, EU leaders asked the European Commission to draw up a plan to reduce the EU’s energy dependence. The EU spends over €1bn...

Rebuttal of the Economist leader article on European climate policy (edition dated 25...

Blog entry by Mark Breddy | January 24, 2014

The two main conclusions drawn by The Economist article – that binding renewables targets don’t work and that the EU should put all its eggs in the carbon market basket – don’t stand up to scrutiny. There’s very strong evidence...

European Commission wearing emperor's new clothes in Davos

Blog entry by Kaisa Kosonen | January 22, 2014

Climate change returned to the agenda of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year. And I expect the all-too-familiar placatory phrases will be back as well: it is  very  urgent and  very  serious; it is getting worse, and  “we”  or ...

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