Chris Huhne backs European plan to raise target for emission cuts

27.5.2010 (Times)

by Ben Webster

The Government promised yesterday to support a European plan to raise the target for cutting greenhouse gases this decade.

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, urged other European Union
members to raise their sights and increase the target from 20 to 30 per cent by

He said: "Global climate change is the biggest challenge the world faces and
securing an ambitious deal is a priority for this Government. That’s why we will
push for the EU to demonstrate leadership by supporting an increase in the EU
emissions reduction target to 30 per cent by 2020."

A European Commission report , published yesterday, said that the higher target could be met by imposing a tighter cap on industrial emissions
and raising the price of allowances that companies must buy to emit carbon dioxide.
It also proposed introducing border tariffs to protect European companies from
foreign competitors manufacturing in countries with weaker controls on emissions.

It said carbon taxes could be introduced for heating and transport fuels.   These new taxes would "generate considerable revenues for member states, which
could be used for low carbon investments in order to create local green jobs".

Connie Hedegaard, the Climate Commissioner, said she hoped the report would "inspire
the debate in the member states on the way forward". She said the decision to
move to the 30% target was one for EU leaders, "when the timing and conditions
are right".

The conditions were not right at present, partly because of the financial turmoil
in the eurozone, she said, but added that there were economic advantages to adopting
the higher target because it would result in the rapid expansion of low-carbon
industries. She admitted the higher target would cost another €33 billion ( £28 billion) a year by 2020,
but said: "This is not lost money. This is the cost of an investment that will
pay dividends."

A commission spokeswoman said that the EU did not have to wait for an international
deal on cutting emissions before adopting the higher target. She also said that
the US proposal to cut emissions by 4% by 2020, while much weaker, could still meet the EU’s condition that other major economies
should take "comparable action" which, she added, would be "a political decision".

Friends of the Earth Europe said the EU target should be raised even higher to
 It said the commission’s own analysis had found that CO2 cuts of 25-40 per cent
would be needed by 2020 to give a reasonable chance of preventing the global temperature
from rising more than 2C above the pre-industrial average.

Mark Kenber, policy director of the Climate Group, a business-led environment
campaign, said: "Many European business leaders are calling for bolder commitments
from political leaders to guarantee greater energy security and economic growth,
as well as new jobs and export opportunities."



The EC report is at   (14 pages)