European leaders, meeting today in Brussels, are seriously jeopardising the European Union’s chances of averting catastrophic man made climate change, and tackling the economic crisis by delaying the crucial decision to unilaterally increase targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions. They are closing the door on innovation, green investment and up to a million new jobs warns Friends of the Earth Europe.
The unilateral increase to 30% emissions reductions by 2020, discussed in the European Commission report shelved today , would have been a step towards crucial domestic emission reductions of at least 40% by 2020. These reductions are both possible and necessary to give a chance of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees. 
Brook Riley, climate justice and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe said: “This is a short-sighted reaction from European leaders. By putting short term financial and budgetary reform before higher emissions targets, the European Union is closing the door to innovation, green investment and up to a million new jobs. Emission cuts of at least 40% gives a chance of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees and is the key to a sustainable, green economy. This is another lost opportunity to tackle both the economic and climate crises, while the European Union needs to act now before the costs become too great.”
The decision to increase emission targets would allow the European Union to tackle the current economic crisis and incentivise green innovation. The European Union must resist industry lobbying if it is serious about a sustainable future. Divisions have already appeared between and within member states, as environment ministers run up against opposition to tougher CO2 targets from ministries of economics and industry, and heads of state. The Commission report has already been watered down by intensive industry lobbying in order to preserve windfall profits for national industries generated by free CO2 allocations under the Emissions Trading Scheme .
Brook Riley, climate justice and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe said: “The European Union needs to listen to facts and not industry lobbyists if it is serious about tackling the economic and climate crises. By delaying the decision to increase climate change targets, the benefits for the European economy, green jobs, health and the environment could be lost. A decision to increase emission targets to at least 40% would give a clear political signal that investments in energy saving, renewable energy and green innovation will be rewarded, and give the European Union a decent chance of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees.”
NOTES: ‘Unlocking Europe’s potential in clean innovation and growth: Analysis of options to move beyond 20%’. See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/future_action_com.htm  Friends of the Earth Europe’s ‘40% study’: http://www.thebigask.eu/40percentstudy/the_40percent_study.pdf  Studying the results of the EU’s Emissions Trading System, Dutch Institute CE Delft estimates that the refining, iron and steel sectors generated roughly €14 billion between 2005 and 2008 by passing on the costs of CO2 allowances even though these companies received the majority of their credits for free. http://www.ce.nl/publicatie/does_the_energy_intensive_industry_obtain_windfall_profits_through_the_eu_ets/1038