EU heavyweights urge 40% greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2030

Germany, France, UK and Italy call for “clear and ambitious” targets, citing EU influence at UN climate talks

(Pic; WEF/Flickr)

(Pic; WEF/Flickr)

By John McGarrity

Germany, France, UK and Italy have urged that that the EU cuts greenhouse gas emissions at least 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels to encourage UN talks on a new climate deal and unlock a wave of new investment in renewables and low carbon technologies.

Ministers in Europe’s four largest economies sent the letter to European Commissioners ahead of a white paper to be published by the EU’s executive on January 22, which is expected to outline the extent of emissions cuts and how they will be reached.

“EU must have an early, clear and ambitious position on its domestic emission reductions through to 2030,” the letter said, adding that Europe has a leading role to in building momentum and negotiating tougher targets from the world’s largest emitters in the lead up to crucial UN climate talks in Paris in 2015.

The letter also said that a target of at least 40 percent would be required so that EU economies can channel billions of euros in investment into low carbon technologies, create new jobs and reduce Europe’s increasingly costly fossil fuel imports.

The letter comes days after ministers from 8 EU member states – which included Germany, France and Italy – called for an ambitious and binding renewables target in order to encourage long-term investment in wind, solar, energy efficiency and interconnected ‘smart’ grids.

COMMENT: UN climate deal hinges on EU ambition

The UK supports a 40% cut in greenhouse gases by 2030 but opposes a renewables target, so it can deploy technologies such as nuclear and energy efficiency to help meet its commitments.

Britain has previously proposed that international UN-approved carbon offsets could be used to help meet a reduction by 2030 in excess of 40 percent.

Meanwhile, other countries, such as Poland, are thought to oppose ambitious and binding goals in C02 cuts and renewables, citing the extra burden these would place on its coal-dominated energy sector and heavy industry.

The Commission had already been considering a 40 percent emissions reduction target and a 30 percent renewables goal, according to news reports late last year.

The EU already has a target to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, a goal that has been made much easier by a major economic downturn at the end of the last decade.

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