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EU 2030 Climate Plan Disregards Science Ireland must fight for stronger renewables target

22 Jan 2014

Dublin, January 22 - EU plans to tackle climate change by the year 2030, announced in Brussels today, have been heavily criticized by environment group Friends of the Earth. The policies proposed by the European Commission disregard climate science, which makes clear the need to urgently and drastically cut emissions to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming.

 

In the plans the EU would commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) and would not set binding national targets for increasing renewable energies or for reducing energy use.

 

Kate Ruddock, policy and campaigns manager for Friends of the Earth Ireland said: "This proposal is totally inadequate compared to what the science tells us we have to do in Europe to avoid climate catastrophe. It only gives us a 50/50 chance of staying under 2oC of warming, plainly ignoring citizens' interests and welfare. What would people say if Airbus or Boeing knowingly designed a plane with a 50/50 chance of crashing and killing its passengers? How are senior policy-makers able to shirk responsibility on an issue as serious as climate risk?"

 

EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso has previously declared that the EU has "set in stone a commitment to cap the temperature increase at 2°C". [1] Today's announcement proposing 40% emissions reductions does not honour this commitment. Data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency and the European Commission show a 40% emissions reduction target for 2030 in fact means a 50/50 chance of exceeding the 2°C threshold [2]. The decision to go for a 40% emissions reduction target also ignores key findings from the European Commission's own research which show higher targets will bring savings on health costs, reduce dependency on energy imports and not significantly affect GDP. [3]

 

Ireland must fight for stronger renewables target

The announcement not to set binding national targets for renewable energy or for reducing energy use is yet another cave-in to the fossil fuel lobby which undermines attempts to reduce the use of the most climate damaging fuels.

 

"Ireland must continue to push for a stronger renewable energy target. It is not only in our national economic interest to do so, but also it is the best contribution Ireland can make to reducing carbon emissions. We currently spend €6.5 billon importing oil and gas. Pursuing renewable energy and energy savings will bring real benefits to the Irish economy" Kate Ruddock continued.

 

Friends of the Earth believes three binding targets is the only way to ensure Europe effectively fulfills its responsibilities for tackling climate change. Emissions must be reduced by at least 60% by 2030 to be in line with science, and there must be binding targets to reduce energy use by 50% and increase the share of renewables to 45%. Only action on this scale will encourage the needed investment in clean energy resources to avoid the worst consequences of climate change and bring maximum benefits to the EU and its citizens.

 

And in another energy and climate-related announcement the European Commission published a weak framework on how to regulate shale gas which fails to protect Europe's citizens and the climate against the risks of fracking. [4]

 

NOTES:

[1] President Barroso on the results of the L'Aquila summit European Commission - MEMO/09/332 10/07/2009. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-09-332_en.htm

[2] Explanation and sources for the 50/50 chance of going over 2°C:
1. The EU is committed to achieving 80-95% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Commission says an intermediate 40% goal in 2030 is on linear trajectory to 80% cuts in 2050 (Roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy in 2050).
2. According to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch13-ens13-3-3-3.html), these cuts are in line with greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere of 450 parts per million.
3. A special EU Climate Change Expert group (in 'The 2°C target Information Reference Document', 2008) and the International Energy Agency (http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/news/2012/may/name,27216,en.html) both say that 450 parts per million would only give a 50/50 chance of keeping global temperature rises below 2°C.

[3] The impact assessment of the 2030 white paper shows:
- savings on health costs are three times higher in a scenario with a 45% GHG target and targets for renewables and energy savings than with a 40% GHG-only scenario
-Energy imports are significantly reduced in the more ambitious scenarios modeled by the Commission
-GDP impacts are the same (+0.55%) in the 40% scenario and in more ambitious scenarios with higher emissions cuts and targets for energy savings and renewables
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/11/06/eu-idUKL5N0IQ3R920131106

[4] Europe opens doors to dangerous fracking, January 22: www.foeeurope.org/shale_gas_framework_220114

 

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