Does the European Union really leads on climate ?


European UnionSome six weeks ahead of Copenhagen, the Guardian published an article on how the European Union believes it is taking the lead on climate change mitigation. At first I was quite optimistic with the title.

However there is nothing new: the EU is still willing to cut by 20 percent its emissions by 2020 and by 30 percent if other major emitters join. I don’t call this leadership as leaders don’t wait for others to join, they go forward.

The United Kingdom is leading by pledging for 34 percent less CO2 by 2020 (compared to 1990). It would have been nice if the whole Union took the same drastic measures.

Being willing to cut emissions by 95 percent by 2050 is nice for headlines, but what matters most is 2020. The IPCC believes we need to cut our emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020.

We have previously seen that this is possible by pushing even more on energy efficiency, renewables and nuclear. Carbon Capture and Storage may also help us quite soon in cutting our emissions.

Even if I don’t agree with TreeHugger on the European goals, I quote them as they bring some interesting remarks :

A deep gap remains between the offered emission reductions in the US climate bill winding its way through Congress and the level of commitment that both India and China (now partners in a five year climate change cooperation agreement) have said will bring them on board to a global agreement.

In fact, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, has recently said the odds of achieving a global deal by the end of COP15 are decreasing, due to the fact that just five official negotiating days remain before the start of COP15 on December 7th to bridge this gap.

(…) Furthermore, Reuters quotes De Boer as making a suggestion which won’t sit well in India and China — If developed nations agree to 25-40% emissions reductions by 2020, then developing nations should also commit to binding emissions targets:

If industrialized countries are reducing by 25-40% by 2020, I think you would also by 2020 perhaps need to see something in the order of a 15% deviation below business as usual in developing countries.

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