How to save the climate and billions of Euros

Posted on 25 May 2010    
Frimmersdorf power plant , coal-fired (lignite), run by RWE. Near Grevenbroich in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany . According to a WWF study, this power plant is the second worst climate polluter in Europe.
© WWF/Andrew Kerr
President Barroso to prove leadership over 'gang of four'

Brussels, Belgium - Tomorrow the European Commission is expected to present a communication which would be important new input in the ongoing debate on the potential costs and savings of increasing the EU's greenhouse gas reduction target. Sources close to the Commission point to a potential block of this communication by a 'gang of four' powerful Commissioners.

Only a few months ago, Commission President Barroso called climate change the defining issue of our generation. To be consistent, he now has to show that he is willing to confront Commissioners Kallas, Lewandowski, Oettinger and Tajani and ensure that the analysis is published in time.

The Commission's communication shows that the estimated cost of reducing CO2 emissions beyond the existing 20% by 2020, to an increased target of 30%, has fallen due to the declining economic activity - but the four mentioned Commissioners do not want any additional spending of EU money, even if it is less than predicted.

Decarbonising Europe now will however be cheaper than in the future and will furthermore have positive impacts on the EU's economy and the well-being of its citizens:

- Achieving a 30% target would save EUR 40 bn. in oil and gas imports in 2020 1  - the money saved could then be reinvested in Europe where it is needed most.

- The RECIPE report 2 , sponsored by WWF Germany and Allianz, found that a reduction target of 30% made economic sense, even without deeper reduction commitments in other countries.

- A study published in 2009 by WWF France 3  found that a 30% CO2 cut by 2020 would yield a net gain of 684,000 jobs in France alone.

- A report WWF co-sponsored with CAN Europe and HEAL in 2008 4 found that the additional benefits to public health in the EU of a 30% target compared with a 20% target totalled up to EUR 25 bn. annually from 2020 onwards.

WWF recognizes that concerns for the economy and financial stability are uppermost in policymakers minds at the moment. But our view is that failing to grasp money-saving opportunities like reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is short-term thinking that will simply lead to more problems, says Jason Anderson, head of EU climate and energy policy at WWF.

WWF welcomes this communication as a step in the right direction for looking beyond the existing 20% by 2020, even though a reduction target of 30% by 2020 is not sufficient. This increase should bring the EU back in line with its longstanding commitment to fight climate change and will help the EU in reaching its target of 80-95% reduction by 2050, as agreed by the October 2009 European Council.

Further information:
Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office, Mob.: +32 (0)474 837 603, Mail: janderson@wwfepo.org

Stephanie Rhomberg, Communications and Press Officer Climate & Energy, WWF European Policy Office, Tel: +32 (0)495 273 319, Mail: srhomberg@wwfepo.org

Notes to the editor:

1. According to a draft of the EC communication.
2. Report available at http://knowledge.allianz.com/nopi_downloads/downloads/RECIPE_synthesis_report.pdf (2009).
3. Study available at http://wwf-ue-2008.org/download/23/ (2009).
4. Report available at http://assets.panda.org/downloads/co_benefits_to_health_report__september_2008.pdf (2008).


Frimmersdorf power plant , coal-fired (lignite), run by RWE. Near Grevenbroich in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany . According to a WWF study, this power plant is the second worst climate polluter in Europe.
© WWF/Andrew Kerr Enlarge

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