After massive criticism by industry leaders, the EU Commission has abandoned plans to tighten Europe’s climate change targets.
Whether Europe wants to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 or by 30 percent by the year 2020 was “a political decision” that must be taken by EU member states, said Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s Climate Commissioner. At present, there was an obvious priority to solve the economic problems of the euro crisis, she said.
Hedegaard has personally and continuously called for the 30 percent target. The German industry, however, has protested vehemently against a tightening of the EU’s climate targets because of fears about competitive disadvantages concerning America and Asia. Germany’s Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle has now called for a climate change ‘moratorium.’
Currently, the European Union has agreed, to reduce its CO2 emissions by 20 percent compared to the year 2020 from 1990 levels. Only if other nations followed would it be raised to 30 percent.
The European Commission, under pressure from industry and member states, on Wednesday cooled its enthusiasm for the EU to unilaterally commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent.
“Are conditions right? Would it make sense at this moment? The answer would be no,” admitted EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, presenting a much-awaited climate paper.
A day earlier Germany, France and others had voiced opposition to the main thrust of the paper, that the EU should consider unilaterally deepening its pledged emissions cuts from 20 percent, as currently agreed, to 30 percent by 2020.
“Back to realism,” was how the relieved European steel industry body Eurofer greeted Hedegaard’s comments, as Europe struggles out of recession.
UK Government isolated
The UK’s new coalition government will push for the European Union to increase its 2020 carbon reduction target to 30% from 1990 levels, up from the current 20% by 2020. The aims are set out in a formal program for government set out by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Thursday.