WWF gives Europe a roadmap to Copenhagen



Posted on 27 February 2009  | 
Brussels, Belgium: With a series of critical European Union meetings on a new global climate deal about to begin, WWF has set out what Europe needs to do to grow in a green way while contributing to helping the world avoid passing the 2 degree threshold of warming that presents unacceptable risks of catastrophic climate change.

“There is a clear link to be made between ambitious climate policies and a new phase of economic growth,” said Stephan Singer, Director of Energy Programme at WWF International.

“The recent financial bailouts prove that when governments decide to fix a problem, money and regulatory instruments are there. There is no excuse to treat the climate crisis with less support and attention.”

The WWF roadmap to a successful new global agreement in Copenhagen in December would see Europe radically strengthen its announced commitments of cutting emissions by just 20 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2050.

European environment ministers will consider target developed and undeveloped country emissions to take to Copenhagen at Monday’s EU Environment Council meeting in Brussels.

Commit to zero net  emissions

Based on various studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios, WWF says that emissions will have to be reduced by at least 80 percent by 2050 globally to keep warming below 2°C. In compliance with its fair share of responsibility, the EU must commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

The IPCC also said that industrial countries will have to reduce their greenhouse gases by between 25 and 40% by 2020. The current EU target is only 20%, with a possibility to increase to 30% if other developed nations will join an international agreement.

These targets are clearly at the lower end of the IPCC scale, and even lower in reality considering that EU countries are allowed to fulfil up to two thirds of their commitment by way of certificates for projects in developing countries (the so-called CDM credits).

At the forthcoming Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) meeting on Tuesday March 10, European finance ministers will consider both the plan to boost economic recovery in Europe and financing climate protection measures.

WWF said Ecofin must come to grips with the fact that so far EU countries have failed to seriously face the challenge and to see the opportunities created by a greener economy.

Today, the fossil fuel energy sector in the EU-15 countries still receives about €20 billion of subsidies, equal to 0.2% Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Europe imports about 4.8 billion barrels of oil per year, equal to 3% of GDP. Natural gas imports are another 3% of GDP.

According to the European Commission, between 600,000 and 900,000 jobs can be created by renewable energy by 2020, compared to today’s 150,000 jobs. As a comparison, the cement and the steel sectors – some of those crying wolf about strong climate measure – employ about 60,000 and 300,000 people respectively.

With finance to developing countries being touted as a make or break issue at Copenhagen, WWF is calling for European contributions for clean technology and reduced deforestation in developing countries to
amount to €35 billion per year, in addition to the long-time promised 0.7% GDP for development aid.

Funding of climate protection measures (avoidance, adaptation and forest protection) needs to be sustainable, predictable and controlled in a transparent manner by the international community.

The European Commission’s current proposal also fails to address the enormous potential of energy efficiency, with an almost complete lack of concrete proposals for technology co-operation.

WWF says that the EU financing of technology development and research should be increased by a factor of 10 compared to current levels by 2020, particularly for renewable energies, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The EU should also promote the setting up of a technology action programme under the UNFCCC to protect intellectual property rights and promote innovation.

Outcomes from the Ecofin and Environment Council meetings are scheduled to be considered by EU Heads of State at a European Council meeting on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th March. Some issues however may carry over to when Sweden assumes the presidency of the EU

Offshore renewable energy sources are in need of development in Wales.
© WWF-Canon / Hartmut Jungius Enlarge

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