The EU Chooses

Next Thursday, European environment ministers will discuss whether the EU should upgrade its 2020 target to 30% unilaterally. ECO says yes! And while you are at it, make sure to meet it domestically, so that any offsetting comes on top of 30%.
While several environment ministers have already indicated their support, others are holding back. But let’s face it, almost everybody expects the EU is going to move to 30% anyway. The more time they waste discussing the matter, the more time they lose reaping the economic advantages.
For two years now, the EU has not budged from its conditional pledge to increase to 30% if comparable efforts are made by other major economies. But this position has diminishing relevance.
Several studies, including from the European Commission, clearly show that EU has good reason to increase ambition right now. The most obvious is that they have
already nearly reached the 20% target, a full 10 years before 2020!
According to the European Environment Agency, the EU’s 2009 emissions stood at approximately 17.3% below 1990 levels. Although the economic crisis is part of the reason, there is no doubt that most of the effort has already happened.
Second, consider the low-carbon race. China became the biggest wind market in the world last year. If EU leaders want their green industry to remain at the forefront, they need to give their economies clear direction.
Third, a more ambitious emissions target would generate billions of euros of additional income for governments, as the majority of industries will have to buy emissions permits under the emissions trading scheme. Funneling this money to climate measures will accelerate EU’s low-carbon development and trigger much needed long-term financing for developing countries. And independent research shows that more ambitious climate policies won’t result in mass relocation of industries outside of the EU.
With smart policies, increasing the EU’s target will be cost neutral and reduce its foreign fuel dependence, cut energy bills in the longer run and reduce public health costs. So, all in all, the perfect moment for going to 30% is now!
 

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