EU Council must address loopholes and weak targets for next phase of UN climate talks



Posted on 09 December 2009
Water is rising up the European Council building
© Ph.Reynaers/WWFEnlarge
Brussels, Belgium – As the European Council prepares to meet in Brussels tomorrow, WWF is calling on Heads of State to take what will be their final opportunity to push EU targets to the level needed to limit atmospheric warming to well below two degrees, before high level talks at the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen begin next week.

"The EU is using a possible move to a 30 % emission reductions target as a bargaining chip, but it is an empty gesture," says Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy at WWF. "Staying at their present offer of 20% would actually mean slowing down the current pace of emission reductions in Europe. The EU would not only forego the economic benefits independent studies say Europe would gain from a deeper target, it would also mean Europe is making less effort than the United States, according to their own internal analyses."

For Europe to retain its leadership and live up to the commitment to stay on less than a 2 degree trajectory, the Council needs to change its target to at least a 30% reduction below 1990 levels with the offer to move to 40% if other countries increase their efforts.

There are three big loopholes hidden in the EU's target:

1. Hot Air
This refers to the excess carbon credits granted to some countries in their Kyoto targets. The EU has 'hot air' allowances left within its own borders, which it could carry over after 2012, or sell on. Failing to flush the 8-10 tonnes of global hot air from the system could cripple real reduction efforts.

2. Land Use Change
Second, the land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) rules that Europe is choosing to promote is a pick-and-choose accounting trick that could lead to a billion tonnes of further so-called reductions if applied globally.

3. Carbon Offsets
The carbon offsets Europe is buying are severely cutting the amount of reductions it is making domestically. Since the EU has bought so much credit already, it will carry over to the next period and cut reductions needing to be made there. Many of these offsets come from projects that would have happened anyway, cutting real reductions.

"Since these loopholes could severely affect European, and indeed global, reduction efforts, the EU needs to cut them out of its own plans and positions," Jason Anderson continues. "The EU also needs to promote the concept of carbon clarity as a key principle in Copenhagen: ensuring full transparency on how reductions are accounted for, so we know that they are real."

The Council is also preparing to agree a short-term financing offer. What is currently planned is no more than Europe already claims as its contribution to international climate finance, and so will lead to no new action - unless there is an absolutely clear demand that this money is new and additional.

Furthermore, Europe has not been forthcoming about how it intends to help in one of the fundamental building blocks of a Copenhagen deal: medium and long-term finance. It has vague existing offers but no specifics on what Europe is prepared to pay. Europe has also introduced but then sidelined important options to raise money, such as from auctioning credits in the shipping and aviation sectors, as well as national emissions credit allowance auctions (AAUs - the 'Norwegian proposal').

WWF is calling for the EU to clarify their level of financial commitment, to close the loopholes in their current proposals and to raise their offered reduction targets to 40 per cent.

For further information:

Jo Sargent, Senior Press Officer, WWF-UK
+44 7867 697 519

Water is rising up the European Council building
© Ph.Reynaers/WWF Enlarge

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