EU faces criticism as commissioner labels 2030 CO2 target ‘stupid’

2030 CO2 target

European energy commissioner Günther Oettinger is facing criticism for speaking out against the Commission’s proposed 40% emissions cut by 2030. Creative Commons: European Parliament, 2010

Just a week after helping to launch the EU’s climate and energy package to 2030, energy commissioner Günther Oettinger is facing criticism for speaking out against the proposed 40% cut in CO2 emissions included in the plans.

Speaking at an ‘Industry Matters’ conference – organised by influential lobby group BusinessEurope – the commissioner, who had argued for a lesser 35% goal behind the scenes, said those who believed the cut could “save the world” were “arrogant and stupid”.

He questioned if such a cut was achievable, saying the economic crisis and closure of soviet-era plants in Eastern Europe meant the EU was only on track to cut emissions by the decade’s end.

Speaking to the audience he said that the EU was responsible for 10.6% of global emissions today, a sum that could fall to 4.5% by 2030, questioning if a 40% cut was worth the financial effort for the EU.

To think that with this 4.5% of global emissions you can save the world is not realistic. It is arrogant or stupid. We need a global commitment.

But the commissioners claims do not chime with the Commission’s own report that forecast a 32% CO2 cut by 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario.

Critics of the 2030 proposals were quick dub Oettinger’s comments as “utter nonsense”.

The EU Commission’s proposed 2030 package was widely criticised by European green groups and progressive business last week for failing to provide the 28-nation bloc’s fair share of global emission reductions or the right signals for low-carbon financiers looking to invest in the continent.

The proposals also received criticism from climate vulnerable nations for showing a lack of leadership ahead of the 2015 deadline for a new global climate treaty.

“Domestic” CO2 target?

The EU is facing increased pressure this week with reports from ENDS Europe that the binding 40% emissions reductions target, on 1990 levels, will include the use of some international carbon offsets – despite the Commission claiming the proposal was a “domestic” target.

The report shows how around 5% of the existing 20% emissions cut by 2020 can be met with offsets – many of which have some from reductions in China and India with dubious environmental credentials.

Rather than requiring additional effort between 2020 and 2030 to compensate for this pre-2020 offset use, the Commission is only proposing a further 20% reduction for this period.

This will mean the 40% greenhouse gas reduction on 1990 levels will not be met entirely domestically.

MEP Claude Turmes of the European Parliament’s Green group said:

The Commission is not entirely honest when it praises a big political success on the greenhouse gas target, since the 40% domestic reductions include a huge pool of international credits.

The EU’s proposals for the 2030 climate and energy package are now set to be discussed by European heads of state in March.

Green groups are now putting pressure on their governments to strengthen the proposed measures to ensure they not only address the reality of climate change, but also protect European citizens and businesses, and send the necessary signals to the international community – adding much needed momentum to climate negotiations for a global treaty due in 2015.

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