Closing the Short-Term EU Mitigation Gap
We all know that if the ambition gap is not closed or significantly narrowed by 2020, the door will close on many options to limit temperature increase to 1.5° C.
An interesting truth is that the EU has already met its 20% target for 2020 eight years ahead of schedule. Including international offset credits, European greenhouse gas emissions were actually down nearly 27% on 1990 levels in 2012!
Therefore, it is a no-regrets option to make these reductions legally binding domestically and internationally, and adopt a 40% reduction target for 2020. And the EU has a concrete opportunity to do so in the context of revising its commitments under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol before May 2014.
A key policy instrument here is the EU Emissions Trading System, the world’s first international cap-and trade system, covering nearly half of the EU’s carbon emissions. The European carbon market must be reformed quickly as it is increasingly ineffective as a tool to control pollution. It suffers from an oversupply of almost two billion emission allowances, mainly due to a record use of international offset credits, which has caused the carbon price to crash to under less than 5 Euro.
What's needed is a bold decision to remove surplus allowances permanently from the market and to adopt a steeper emissions reduction trajectory.
Based on its experience with domestic targets, the EU is well-placed to call for a framework that hastens the roll-out of renewables and energy efficiency through enhanced international collaboration.
The EU should ensure its 2020 climate and energy package demonstrates how ambition leads to success. At stake is not only the EU’s credibility but indeed the integrity of its climate policy.