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EU Climate Head: Conditions Not Met for 30% Cut in CO2 Emissions

The European Commission (EC) did not recommend moving from a 20 percent to 30 percent cut in CO2 emissions despite a new report that finds that the cost of meeting the higher target has dropped significantly, primarily due to the economic crisis, which cut industrial production and drove down prices in the EU Emission Trading System, reports KansasCity.com.

EU Climate Action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, told reporters in Brussels her answer would be no to higher reductions at “this very moment.” The report indicates that conditions for a 30 percent cut “are clearly not met.”

Hedegaard said the conditions were not right at the present time partly because of the financial turmoil in the eurozone, although she admitted that there were economic advantages to adopting the higher target because it would help expand low-carbon industries, reports Times Online.

There are mixed views on the emissions cuts. As examples, France and Germany are opposed to the higher emission cuts while Britain and Sweden are moving from a 20 percent to 30 percent cut in emissions by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, reports KansasCity.com.

The EC report finds that a 30 percent emission cut would cost $99 billion, compared to the annual $86 billion price tag to meet the 20 percent target when it was adopted in early 2008, says KansasCity.com.

Hedegaard said in the article that meeting the 20 percent target would cost $59 billion a year, and if the EU chose to maintain spending at $86 billion a year CO2 emissions would fall by “almost 25 percent.”

The commission also finds that moving to 30 percent could save $49 billion in oil and gas imports, reduce the cost of cleaning up air pollution by $3.7 billion, bringing $4.3 billion to $9.8 billion in additional health benefits and create new jobs in the ‘green’ economy by 2020.

Hedegaard said in the article that next week’s ministerial meeting in Bonn, Germany, ahead of the next climate change summit set for November in Cancun, Mexico, would significantly influence the EU’s position. EU leaders are expected to discuss climate change policy at a summit in Brussels on June 17.

Chris Huhne, the UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary, is urging other European Union members to increase the target from 20 to 30 percent by 2020, reports Times Online.

The EC report said that the higher target could be met by imposing a tighter cap on industrial emissions, raising the price of allowances, and  introducing border tariffs to protect European companies from foreign competitors manufacturing in countries with weaker emissions controls, reports Times Online.

In January, an alliance of European manufacturing companies expressed their opposition to GHG reductions of 30 percent until other major economies also made substantial and binding commitments.

At the Copenhagen summit, the United States, China and other world powers refused to match the EU’s higher CO2 targets with similar pledges.

UN climate change chief Yvo de Boer said that Cancun summit could deliver progress towards a binding international treaty, if rich nations show that they are making good on providing $30 billion (£21bn) in climate funding to poorer nations, and if all countries can deliver and prove progress on emissions targets, reports BusinessGreen.

As a sign that progress is being made, India recently published its first full greenhouse gas emissions report in more than a decade, says BusinessGreen.

However, China’s top climate change officials, Xie Zhenhua, said that China is targeting the UN climate meeting in South Africa in late 2011 for the completion of any international treaty, according to the article.

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