The Case for 30% is Clear

3 April 2011

Before today’s presentations of the pledges get underway, ECO decided to offer some of its own “clarifications” about the EU mitigation pledge. And it’s mostly good news.
 The emissions cuts made by the EU in 2009 were already 17.3 % below 1990 levels, so the 20% target by 2020 is almost already met. ECO isn’t the first to point out that less effort is required of the EU than some may think.  The European Commission’s 2050 Low Carbon Roadmap published in March 2011, notes that implementing the EU’s existing renewable energy and energy efficiency targets would lead to 25 % domestic emissions cuts in the EU. So there’s really no excuse for the EU not to commit to do more – moving to at least the 30% target they have long promised, and beyond to the 40% target that science demands. And there are many reasons why they should.
First, the Commission’s 2050 Roadmap showed how hitting only the 20% target by 2020 would put the EU off-course to achieve the 2050 target of 80-95% that they know is needed. Failing to try a bit harder now will mean much more work in the long-run.
Second, moving to 30% would bring the EU Emissions Trading Scheme back to life. ECO has long complained of the problems of over-allocation of emissions allowances in the period 2008-12, which does nothing but offer staggering windfall profits to the dirtiest industries in Europe.
Decreasing the number of allowances by increasing the target would turn a policy by which the polluter gets paid, into one that incentivizes clean, green fighting industries of the future in Europe. The business voices that want to realize that vision in Europe have had enough of the uncertainty of a conditional target. Planning big investments requires predictability. Europe needs both.
Third, those investments will bring new jobs to Europe. The European Commission shows how “action geared towards reaching the climate and energy targets of the Europe 2020 strategy has some of the greatest potential for future jobs.” Many will fall in the construction industry – a sector particularly hard hit in the European economic downturn.
ECO hopes this helps to provide all the clarity the EU needs to finally move to its higher target. A report commissioned for the German Environment Ministry sums it up nicely. A 30% target would help boost European investments from 18% to 22% of GDP, lead to a GDP increase of up to €620bn, create up to 6 million additional jobs, and help European industry to maintain and enhance its competitiveness. Europe, ECO thinks the case for 30% is clear as day.

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