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Activists display banners claiming 'Coal is a climate killer' inside of the coal power plant. The power plant belongs to Electrabel, one of Europe's leading electricity producer. Electrabel produces unclean electricity with coal and nuclear energy and is uninterested in promoting clean energy such as solar and wind.


As one of the biggest global emitters of greenhouse gases, the European Union (EU) must lead the international efforts to stop climate change.

Upto now, the EU has shown vision on the issue of climate change; namelyby adopting its position to limit the mean temperature increase tobelow 2°C above pre-industrial levels and by consistently standingbehind the Kyoto Protocol in the face of attacks (led mainly by the US,Australia and the OPEC bloc of oil producing countries).

However,Greenpeace is concerned that the EU's commitment to combating climatechange is not central enough to its overall policies. The EU has notsufficiently supported renewable energy and energy efficiency, whichare the cheapest, safest, fastest, surest and most environmentally andsocially acceptable ways to achieve greenhouse emission reductions inthe energy sector. The EU has continued to waste huge sums of money insubsidies for both fossil fuels and nuclear power. On fluorinated gasesthat damage the climate, the EU has yet to demonstrate the politicalwill to replace them with climate-friendly alternatives.

TheEU has adopted a target under the Kyoto Protocol to decrease itsgreenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent compared to 1990 levels duringthe commitment period 2008-2012.

TheKyoto Protocol alone will not stop climate change, however. That's whythe EU is starting to discuss its post-2012 (post-Kyoto) climatestrategy. Greenpeace supports using the Kyoto Protocol as the buildingblock for the post-2012 framework and urges the EU to commit to thefollowing:

  • Tocontinue to be a climate change leader by showing its willingness andintent to press ahead with the second commitment period of Kyoto.
  • Toadopt legally binding greenhouse gas reduction targets that areconsistent with limiting temperature rise to below 2°C. This translatesinto targets of at least -15 percent by 2015 and at least -30 percentby 2020 (compared to 1990 levels).
  • To have a long-term vision to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of 80 percent by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).
  • Toensure that action in all policy areas (especially energy, transport,agriculture, chemicals and development) contributes to staying below2°C.

The EU Heads of State made a first step to the right direction in March 2005. Read our press release (pdf).

Whilespecial efforts must be concentrated on engaging Australia and theprincipal greenhouse gas emitter, the US, the EU should not wait forthese countries before setting its own targets for beyond 2012. It isvital that US inaction is not permitted to block the rest of the worldfrom moving forward.

Some policy recommendations to the EU are outlined below:

  • Theadoption of ambitious, legally binding long-term targets for renewableenergy sources and for the decrease of energy consumption,
  • Theremoval of market barriers which hinder the growth of clean energy,including putting an immediate end to subsidies for dirty energysources (fossil fuels and nuclear energy),
  • Thereform of national Export Credit Agencies (ECA) so that they givepriority to renewable energy development and energy efficiencyprogrammes. All energy sector financial support has to include targetsfor the uptake of renewable energy as a reliable, modern energy sourcefor on-grid, industrial and residential applications,
  • Arapid phase-out of the extremely potent "fluorinated" gases in allapplications (refrigeration, air conditioning, foams, etc).
More information:
Greenpeace European Unit website on climate and energy.
Exposing the EU’s dirty energy subsidies. (pdf report)

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