In Parliament >> A tougher target

17th May 2011

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  • Mitigation ,
  • EU



Chris Davies explains why a hot summer might be the key to gaining support for tougher EU carbon emissions targets

I hope it’s going to be a very hot summer. I know it shouldn’t make a difference, and I understand that climate and weather are not the same thing, but it could help shape the political debate in a positive way.

Cold winters do not help those of us who want to see the EU be more ambitious in its CO2 reduction goals. Climate change deniers seize upon them as proof of “the great global-warming conspiracy”. They have loud voices in the European Parliament, and have influence in the EU’s Council of Ministers.

Action to combat global warming peaked on the EU agenda between early 2007 and the end of 2008 in the run-up to the UN’s 2009 climate change conference in Copenhagen. A pledge was made unilaterally to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020 by 20% compared with 1990, and by 30% if an international agreement could be secured. The failure of the conference was a huge blow.

Despite strong backing from the UK’s Chris Huhne, climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard cannot be sure of securing enough votes in the Council to have a 30% CO2 reduction target adopted unilaterally.

The EU’s new low-carbon economy roadmap says that domestic emission reductions of 25% are needed by 2020 if the goal of 80%–95% savings by 2050 is to be achieved.

Increased political emphasis is being given to the economic arguments in favour of low-carbon investments, especially now that China has adopted a five-year plan with a green emphasis that could leave Europe looking sidelined.

But the commission’s fallback position is that the target can be met simply by implementing all the policies already in place – plus some offsetting.

It’s a tall order. Latest estimates are that EU governments will achieve only half the energy efficiency goals that have been set.

Time to raise the temperature!


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