EU chief Barroso eyes 40% emissions reductions target

By Ed King

The European Commission President has suggested the Union may need to consider a 40% carbon reduction target from 2020.

The EU is currently committed to reducing emissions 20% by 2020, but speaking in Vienna, Jose Manual Barroso admitted this would be insufficient to avert dangerous levels of global warming.

Some countries in the EU wish to increase their 2020 target to 30%, and Barroso said discussions on how the bloc can increase its ambition are ongoing.

“By 2030 global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 40% to be on the right track towards the agreed target to constrain atmospheric warming to 2°C,” he said.

Barroso says 4.8 million jobs could be created if the EU meets its 2020 efficiency targets

“At the same time, it is also clear that we need to continue providing business with long-term regulatory predictability, to boost and lock-in low-carbon technologies.

“That is why the Commission is already strategically reflecting on the post-2020 horizon, both domestically and internationally. What types of climate and energy targets should we envisage?”.

Any moves to boost the EU’s carbon reduction targets are likely to meet stiff resistance, notably from Poland – hosts of this year’s main UN climate conference.

But echoing yesterday’s intervention from Al Gore on UK television, Barroso argued that green growth is a path out of the five-year-old Eurozone crisis, saying that 4.8 million new jobs could be created if the EU meets its 2020 energy efficiency targets.

“There is a clear business case for “green investing”. The terms “green” and “growth” are not in contradiction,” he said.

“Building a low-carbon economy is essential to prevent climate change from reaching dangerous levels. It is also a huge opportunity to boost prosperity and get us out of the current crises.

“The global market for green technologies is worth 1000 billion Euros per year, and expected to double or even triple by 2020.”

WWF-UK climate policy expert Kat Watts told RTCC a 40% target would be consistent with the EU’s 2050 Energy Roadmap, but expressed frustration that the Commission had not come up with a pathway consistent with that higher level of ambition.

“The EU has already nearly achieved its 20% 2020 target and really needs to up its game to be able to claim climate leadership. A -40% goal for 2020, not 2030 as Mr. Barroso suggests, is what is needed,” she said.

“The EU seems to have forgotten that the Council agreed to reduce emissions by -80 – 95% and the decarbonization trajectory that Mr Barroso refers to is for the weak end of that agreed range.

“It needs to act with more ambition now – with a -40% 2020 target, and by setting a strong emissions target for 2025 in line with a vision for a near-zero carbon future by 2050.”

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