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Wednesday February 14, 2007

Climate change: tougher targets needed, say MEPs

In a resolution on climate change, Parliament calls for a range of clear and binding measures to tackle the problem in the medium and long-term. The resolution is the EP's response to the Commission's paper "Limiting Global Climate Change to 2 degrees Celsius - the way ahead for 2020 and beyond", published in January. Tackling climate change is on the agenda of the EU's spring summit and is a priority of the German Council presidency.

MEPs believe the EU's strategy on climate change should be based on two key objectives: to limit the average global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrialisation levels; and to undertake overall emission reductions for all industrialised countries of 30% in comparison with 1990 levels by 2020, with a view to achieving a reduction in the order of 60-80% by 2050.
 
The resolution regrets the lack of clarity of the Commission's "energy and climate package" with regard to the target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions for 2020 and demands an overall reduction of 30% for all industrialised countries, to have a reasonable chance of attaining the EU objective of limiting the average temperature increase to 2°C. It adds that the EU should base all its internal policies on the target of 30% by 2020. 
 
Parliament stresses that energy policy is a crucial element of EU global strategy on climate change and that diversification of renewable energy resources and a switch to the most energy efficient technologies has great potential for emission reductions.
 
Greater energy efficiency offers a huge potential for emission reductions, so MEPs want the Commission and Member States to adopt ambitious measures in this field and to consider going beyond the Commission's proposed 20% reduction target.  They also urge greater use of combined heat and power, given the inefficiency of many existing power plants. 
 
Well-balanced national tax/levy systems can also help improve energy efficiency. An EU-wide tax system to promote a low carbon economy should also be considered.
 
Energy consumption is increasing most in the transport sector and road transport contributes to roughly 25% of the Community's CO2 emissions. Steps are needed to boost public transport, introduce binding measures for the transport sector, including aviation, and encourage more integrated and greener public transport.   Aviation and maritime transport emissions should be included in post-2012 international commitments. 
Given the urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions from cars, MEPs call on the Commission to impose a binding target of 120 grams per kilometre by 2012 for new passenger cars marketed in the EU.
 
Parliament notes the proposal of a binding target to increase the level of renewable energy in the EU energy mix to 20% by 2020 as a good starting point but believes this should be increased to 25%.  It also points to the absence of binding targets for individual sectors and urges such targets notably for electricity generation, heating and cooling.
 
The Commission's proposed binding minimum target for biofuels of 10% of vehicle fuels in 2020 is noted, but MEPs believe a figure of 12.5% would also be realistic and desirable.   They stress the importance of sustainable production of biofuels, but add that this must not be at the expense of food production nor aggravate deforestation. They therefore call for mandatory environmental and social certification of biofuels.
 
With a reference to the Stern Review, MEPs underline the economic, social and health costs of inaction, which would cause damage corresponding to 5-20% of global GDP per year, whereas the cost of a sound climate policy and investment in clean technologies is put at between 0.5% and 1% of global annual GDP up to 2050.
 
The resolution also calls for targets to be set for ultra-low or non-CO2 emitting energy technologies, so as to supply 60% of electricity by 2020.  Lastly, it states that cutting global emissions must not lead to other threats such as nuclear proliferation or terrorism; nuclear power should therefore remain excluded from CDM/JI or other mechanisms aimed at rewarding emission reductions in developing countries.