Will the European Council add insult to injury on climate and energy?
European Heads of State and Government meeting at the European Council
20 and 21 March 2014 in Brussels
On 21 March, European Heads of State and Government will meet to debate the EU climate and energy framework for 2030.
Draft council conclusions indicate that the European Council is only planning to welcome the Commission's white paper as a good basis for work, but delay real decisions until later in the year.
For WWF, this result adds insult to injury: the Commission has watered down ambition in order to win Council approval, which the Council seems reluctant to give.
Failure to make clear decisions by the time of Ban Ki-Moon's Leaders' Summit on Climate Change in September would undermine the EU’s standing and create a negative dynamic in international climate discussions.
There is no reason to wait nor aim so low. The public demands action. A recent Eurobarometer survey reveals that 90% of Europeans consider climate change a serious problem, that 92% think it is important for their governments to provide support for improving energy efficiency by 2030 and that 90% find it important for their government to set targets to increase use of renewables by 2030.
On Friday, Member State governments must listen to their citizens and show political leadership needed to inspire Europe towards an industrial and economic revolution that will provide for both people and the planet.
WWF is calling for EU targets on greenhouse gas cuts (at least 55%), renewable energy generation (at least 45%), and energy savings (at least 40%), which are legally binding and effort shared between Member States .
Quotes from Tony Long, Director of WWF European Policy Office:
“Delaying any decision on EU climate and energy policies for 2030 is in stark contradiction with what European citizens want. It goes against everything that science has been telling us about the disastrous impacts of climate change. And it is preventing Europe’s needed transition towards an industrial and economic revolution that will provide for both people and the planet.
NOW is the time for EU leaders to be the leaders Europe needs. They need to secure Europe’s future as a world leading sustainable economic power now or risk years of climate inaction, energy sector stagnation and insecurity, and lost social, environmental, and economic opportunities.”
Quotes from WWF European national organisations:
“As the Austrian government has started to work on a national energy strategy for 2030 we need a strong European commitment with a national contribution-sharing agreement as a guiding framework, and we need it now”, said Karl Schellmann, Climate and Energy Expert at WWF Austria. “It must contain three ambitious targets and binding timelines for implementation. There is a big chance for substantial decarbonisation steps with benefits for people and business if the EU is willing to take the lead in this direction.”
“Belgium should continue to play its role as a front runner in EU climate and energy policy making. Prime Minister Di Rupo has the mandate to call for more ambitious CO2-reductions and a binding energy efficiency target”, said Jan Vandermosten, Policy Officer at WWF Belgium. “He should step up to the challenge now: ambitious decisions have to be taken at this European Council, and not be postponed to after the Ban Ki Moon summit.”
“We strongly urge the Danish prime minister to push for a clear signal from the European Council this week on Europe’s 2030 climate and energy policy framework”, said John Nordbo, Head of Conservation Department at WWF Denmark. “Europe needs to show climate leadership by deciding on a future policy comprising three binding and ambitious targets for CO2 reduction, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. This will be crucial not only for the possibilities to reach a new global agreement in Paris in 2015, but also for maintaining and developing Europe as a strong hub for renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions in the future.”
“In 2015, the world will meet in Paris to discuss a new international agreement on climate change at UN Climate Conference (COP21). With other developed economies, the European Union will have to play its role to be on track to stay below a 2°C average global temperature rise”, said Pierre Cannet, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF France. “Ambitious EU 2030 targets will be key to create confidence and trust in the process and reach a bold agreement. If the EU is not more ambitious, this will not happen. Moreover, France needs an ambitious package in its future capacity of COP21 president: it will add to its credibility and legitimacy in moving the negotiations forward.”
“According to an independent analysis, a 40% GHG reduction by 2030 leads to a 70% reduction until 2050 instead of the agreed 80-95%. This means that the EU would give up on its long term target through the back door, or that reaching the target will become much more expensive”, said Regine Günther, Director Climate & Energy Policy at WWF Germany. “The Commission’s proposal on the ETS reform also means that the surplus will remain in the system until 2027. The ETS would be ineffective for the next 15 years and 50% of the EU CO2 emissions would remain unregulated. National regulation would become necessary to fill the gap.”
"The financial crisis needs to be seen as a call for change and not an excuse for sidestepping vital global policies, such as those leading to low carbon economies”, said Theodota Nantsou, Head of Policy at WWF Greece. “Greece should seize the unique opportunity of running the EU Presidency which negotiates the 2030 climate and energy package, by promoting ambitious proposals and a binding three-target framework that will drive job creation, increase energy security and boost the competitiveness of Europe's energy industry".
"A low-carbon economy based on renewable energy and energy savings is of primary interest for Italian citizens. As Italy is poor in fossil fuels but rich in sun and wind, it would ensure the country’s energy security. Moreover, the green economy sectors have resisted the economic crisis better than any other traditional sector, but the EU needs to give them a reliable perspective.”, said Mariagrazia Midulla, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF Italy. “In the context of the Italian job crisis, green jobs are the only credible answer, considering that efficiency and renewables are more labour intensive. A set of ambitious targets will also help Italy to have the strategic approach needed to build an innovation-based future."
“Trying to delay decisions on climate policy in the EU goes in stark contrast with the expectations of Polish society, science and common sense”, said Tobiasz Adamczewski, Climate and Energy Expert at WWF Poland. “An ambitious EU package is an opportunity for Poland to grow sustainably. While the Polish energy sector is in need of high investment, this is the time when the shift towards decarbonisation can take place. Ambitious emission reduction targets could facilitate the shift towards efficient buildings, energy savings and higher standards in transportation.”
"EU Governments need to endorse much stronger targets that allow Europe to maintain momentum towards a modern, clean energy system”, said WWF Scotland's director Lang Banks. “Our latest report - Scotland: a Renewable Powerhouse - shows that ambitious renewables targets, backed up by effective policies and clear political will, helps to deliver when it comes to climate and energy. If Europe really wants to cut climate emissions and secure many thousands of green jobs, then it should certainly take a look at what is happening in Scotland for some much needed inspiration and ideas."
“Spain is already suffering the impact of climate change”, said Mar Asunción Higueras, Head of the Climate Change Programme at WWF Spain. “It is wiser to create an ambitious framework to stop the problem than to pay the economic, social or environmental costs of the impacts.”
“Having chaired the European Union in Copenhagen climate summit 2009, prime minister Reinfeldt will know the full global importance of not turning up with a weak conditionality-bound EU package at Paris 2015”, said Stefan Henningsson, Senior Adviser Climate and Energy at WWF Sweden. The EU 2030 decision is far too important to let insecurity in the long-term future of Swedish nuclear power play down ambitious short-term action in EU on dealing cost-effectively with climate change, EUs over-reliance on fossil fuels and the health of EU citizens. Reinfeldt must join the massive support for three binding targets at member state level or he is clearly opposing EU's necessary energy transition away from fossil fuels."
“The recent floods in the UK and the crisis in the Ukraine have both highlighted the importance of rapidly moving towards a low carbon energy system to tackle the threat of climate change and the security risks that come with an over-reliance on fossil fuels”, said Nick Molho, Head of Climate and Energy Policy at WWF UK. “An ambitious European climate and energy package is essential to delivering these objectives cost-effectively and we call on the Prime Minister to build on the UK’s positive leadership to date to urgently move negotiations forward.”
Note to the editors:
1. Further details can be found in WWF’s response to the European Commission Green Paper on a 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies - http://www.wwf.eu/what_we_do/climate/publications_climate/?209335/WWF-position-on-2030-EU-Climate-and-Energy-policy
Head of Climate & Energy
WWF European Policy Office
Phone:+32 2 740 09 35
Mobile:+32 4 74 837 603
Climate & Energy Media and Communication Officer
WWF European Policy Officer
Phone: +32 2 743 88 06 |
Mobile: + 32 494 03 20 27