EU “leaders” follow industry on climate | WWF

EU “leaders” follow industry on climate

Posted on
12 December 2008
Brussels, Belgium/Poznan, Poland: Last year’s bold commitments on climate were translated into feeble commitments on action today as European leaders finalised the more contentious aspects of the climate and energy package, Europe’s headline response to the climate change issue.

With support for a 30% reduction in Europe’s emissions by 2020 now no more than a muted whisper, leading NGOs including WWF called on the European parliament to vote down the Effort Sharing law that is a key outcome of the leaders’ summit.

The NGOs - Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF – said the law, governing emissions not under Europe’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), allowed up to two thirds of required reductions to be met by carbon credits purchased from projects outside Europe.

“EU leaders will probably trumpet the deal on climate change as a great success, but in reality this is a big failure in EU ambition,” said Delia Villagrasa, Senior Advisor to WWF.

“Basically, Europe just decided to off-set about two thirds of its own greenhouse gas emissions, to have consumers pay for emissions permits that polluting companies get for free and to avoid supporting poorer countries in the fight to climate change. This is not quite the third industrial revolution we were expecting,

“The result of this race to the bottom is that Europe will reduce its own greenhouses gas emissions significantly less than the proclaimed 20% target by 2020.”
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EU leaders also refused to introduce measures, such as fines, to compel countries to meet their national targets – a fundamental flaw, which could prompt governments to think that they can get away with inaction.

Green and development groups are calling on the European Parliament to support far greater European emission reduction efforts and for national parliaments to stop external credits being used to buy the way out of real emission reduction.

Europe’s manufacturers were also largely granted exemptions from having to buy carbon permits under the ETS, despite a lack of evidence that participation in emissions trading would impact on the international competitiveness.

Pressure from Poland also ensured that the power sector largely retained its exemptions from having to buy permits at auction – and the scandalous levels of windfall profit that came with the allocation of high levels of free permits.

European environment and development groups have long been agitating for auctioning to become the norm for all industries, a double benefit that would combine reducing pollution with a funding source for emissions abatement elsewhere

“This is a dark day for European climate policy. European heads of state and government have reneged on their promises and turned their backs on global efforts to fight climate change,” Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF said in a joint statement today.

“Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi, Donald Tusk and Nicolas Sarkozy should be ashamed. They have chosen the private profits of polluting industry over the will of European citizens, the future of their children and the plight of millions of people around the world. The Parliament can and should amend the worst parts of today’s deal.”

Europe’s backdown on its climate leadership aspirations is in contrast to the stronger action being advocated by developing countries in UN climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland, also due to conclude today.

Developing nations complain not only about the increasingly modest emissions reductions targets of the developed world, but also about the lack of real funds being put into previous promises to help developing countries mitigate rapidly growing emissions and adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

The EU must take the lead to reduce its CO2 emissions by one third by 2020.
© WWF / Andrew Kerr