UK urges Europe’s leaders to back ambitious climate targets

Climate secretary Ed Davey says proposed 40% cuts are at lower end of EU ambition as 2015 UN deal in Paris looms

(Pic: DECC/Flickr)

(Pic: DECC/Flickr)

By Ed King

UK climate chief Ed Davey has raised the stakes at negotiations over the EU’s energy future energy plans, again insisting countries must consider 50% carbon emission cuts by 2030.

European leaders are discussing a 40% emission reduction goal based on 1990 levels, but talks are in deadlock, with a six-country coalition led by Poland holding out for more cash in return for cuts.

On Monday, an official in Brussels speaking for the eastern European states told RTCC that the plan could collapse unless they received clearer signals on how the cuts would be shared.

But in a bullish statement Davey emphasised the UK position was that a 40% target would “not be enough” if countries agree a global climate deal to limit warming to below 2C at the UN next year.

“If the rest of the world is prepared to act too in Paris, the UK is arguing that the EU should be prepared to be even more ambitious and cut by 50%,” he said.

“With the UK already acting to cut our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, we are now leading the pack.”

A clear decarbonisation signal from the EU later this month is seen as essential for UN negotiations on a 2015 climate change deal to succeed.

The US, China and other leading economies have agreed to outline what emission cuts they could make towards this agreement, but will do so once the EU position is clear.

Earlier on Monday Denmark’s foreign minister Martin Lidegaard tweeted that he was on a “diplomatic tour de force to promote ambitious targets”, with Lisbon his latest stop.

But together with Poland there remain influential opponents to a 40% goal, notably current energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger, who has branded it “stupid”.

EU ministers must also decide on targets for renewable energy and efficiency, which are supported by Denmark and Germany, but opposed by the UK and Poland.

Industry pressure

On Monday the CEOs from 56 businesses including Coca Cola, Philips, Ikea and Alstom warned EU leaders in a letter that a delay over the 2030 package would entail increased costs, risks and impacts.

“We therefore urge you to agree… a robust 2030 energy and climate framework and robust energy security framework that is fully in line with Europe’s long term climate objectives,” they said.

Sandrine Dixson-Decleve, director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, which coordinated the intervention, said confusion in Brussels was affecting long term low carbon  investments.

She said: “Lack of clear policy will have a negative impact on supply chains, resource availability, and society as a whole.”

In an interview with RTCC last month, Europe’s outgoing climate chief Connie Hedegaard said the economic and security case for cutting emissions and investing in efficiency was now compelling.

“Last year, of these 400 billion euros we sent 140 billion to [Vladimir] Putin’s Russia. So it makes sense for us to reduce our energy bill and our energy dependency and create more energy security,” she said.

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