Thursday, September 11, 2008

Environmental groups denounce EU Parliament attempt to boycott climate targets

Brussels, Belgium – The European Parliament’s industry committee is trying to ditch the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and to boycott 2020 climate targets, environmental groups said following today’s vote on how the carbon market should operate after 2012.

The committee voted to delay or even prevent the planned shift from a 20 to a 30% emission reduction target, on condition that an international climate deal is reached next year.

“Today’s decision backtracks on the commitments made by the EU last year. The industry committee have clearly put short-term economic interests before innovation and technology development that would lead to longer term benefits, such as new jobs and a more secure energy system in Europe,” said Sanjeev Kumar, ETS expert at WWF’s European Policy Office.

Environmental NGOs denounce the committee’s attempt to allow certain carbon-intensive industries to continue polluting largely for free, by reducing the amount of allowances they will be obliged to purchase. This decision has not been backed up by evidence proving that they would suffer undue economic disadvantage compared to similar companies outside the EU.

In addition, the vote would allow companies to have access to even more emission reduction credits from projects in developing countries, further reducing the effort required by companies to reduce emissions within the EU.

This vote allows an even higher access to external credits than the Commission proposed, which means that the cuts required domestically inside the EU amount to only around 15%. The rest of the emissions reduction effort can be undertaken through dubious projects outside of the EU. No legally binding, strong quality criteria have been imposed on external credits.

“This vote weakens the domestic emission reduction efforts required by Europe. If other developed countries followed the EU’s lead, the world would be on course for at least a 3.6°C increase in average global temperatures above pre-industrial levels,” said Tomas Wyns, CAN Europe ETS expert.

The industry committee has in effect discounted Europe’s responsibility to fight dangerous climate change. This is not only completely irresponsible but also the results of this vote will endanger the EU’s credibility at the international climate negotiations.

Environmental groups argue that it is crucial that the environment committee ignores today's disappointing outcome in the industry committee. Environmental groups call on the environment committee – which will vote in early October – to vote to improve the environmental effectiveness of the emissions trading scheme.

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