European Commission must press ahead with bold climate action
Brussels, 26 May – Research published today by the European Commission on the impact of cutting more of Europe’s climate-changing emissions by 2020 has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth Europe.  The environment group warned however that the EU must further increase its ambition to a 40% reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and avoid reliance on carbon trading as the solution to the climate crisis.
The European Commission document published today recognises that CO2 reductions of between 25% and 40% are needed by 2020 to give a reasonable chance of stabilising global temperatures at safe levels.
So far Europe’s leaders have refused to increase their inadequate emissions reduction target of 20% by 2020 despite overwhelming scientific evidence and international pressure. In publishing this research, the Commission has made a bold contribution to increasing Europe’s ambition and could go some way to unlocking the stalled international climate negotiations.
Friends of the Earth Europe believes the EU must now adopt a binding domestic target of 40% cuts by 2020, and set annual reduction targets backed by tough infringement proceedings. 
David Heller, climate justice and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Connie Hedegaard has taken a cautious first step, but has fallen short of a clear call to increase EU emission cuts by 2020. If a 30% target is agreed we’ll be closer to the crucial 40% figure that should give us a better chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees. A 40% reduction is not only possible, but affordable and necessary. The EU governments must stand up to vested interests and make a clear call for an increase in EU targets. In particular, cuts must be made domestically, rather than through offsetting schemes such as the Clean Development Mechanism, which do nothing to reduce emissions or create jobs within Europe.”
The widely leaked Commission communication has already come under fire from industry groups which are portraying higher CO2 targets as a threat to competitiveness – despite the proven investment and job opportunities of boosting renewable growth.
The level of ambition in the communication has also been challenged by other commissioners acting in alignment with their national governments.
In reality the collapse of Eastern European industry since 1990 and the recent slow-down in European manufacturing mean the current 20% target is little more than a business-as-usual decrease in emissions. Combined with the free hand-out of emission allowances and uncontrolled access to international carbon credits, there is a real risk that no meaningful emissions cuts will be made in the next ten years. 
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 believes that an increased level of ambition is achievable, affordable, and necessary if Europe is to fulfil its historical responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Research commissioned by Friends of the Earth from Stockholm Environment Institute, has shown that the EU can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2020 – this is the minimum scale and speed of reductions science says is needed from rich countries to avert a climate catastrophe. The research shows that it is possible to meet these targets without relying on offsetting carbon emissions, and without false solutions such as nuclear power and so-called ‘clean coal’.
‘Europe’s share of the climate challenge – domestic actions and international obligations to protect the planet’, SEI, December 2008.
The Big Ask campaign being run by Friends of the Earth Europe, and Friends of the Earth groups in 18 European countries, is calling for binding annual emission reductions across Europe leading to cuts of at least 40% by 2020. For more information on the Big Ask website. ‘A Dangerous Obsession – The evidence against carbon trading and for real solutions to avoid a climate crunch‘.