EU heads for double standards on cutting emissions

20 February 2007

Environment Ministers attempt progressive stance on climate, but forget that reform starts at home

February 20th, Brussels - The EU is heading for a double standard on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, warned Friends of the Earth Europe today after a meeting of Environment Ministers. Ministers reaffirmed the EU's commitment to build and expand on Kyoto to achieve absolute emission reductions by developed countries, going so far as to acknowledge that developed countries must reduce their emissions by 30% by 2020. But paradoxically, they suggested a unilateral target for the EU itself of only reducing emissions by 20% by 2020.

Jan Kowalzig, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said:
"Setting a target to reduce emissions by only 20% by 2020 is in dire conflict with scientific findings and political wisdom. The Environment Council notes that a 30% cut is necessary but announces to do less. This will send the wrong signal to the international community, casting a dubious light on how serious the European Union is about fighting climate change."

Even the 20% target was difficult to agree on, obstructed by Finland, Poland and Hungary. Sweden and Denmark were the only countries that supported a 30% unilateral target, while most other EU Member States were content with the lower unilateral target of 20%. A final position for the EU will be agreed by Heads of States at the Spring Summit in Brussels on March 8th and 9th.

"In public actions across Europe, people are calling for a real commitment to fight climate change. The EU should unilaterally set itself a target of reducing domestic emissions by at least 30% compared to 1990 levels. This would not only match the urgency of the climate crisis, but also give confidence for the energy industry when planning investments," Mr Kowalzig added.

In the weeks before the Spring Summit, European citizens are calling for dramatic reductions in emissions and a clean safe energy policy based on renewable and energy efficiency.

In thirteen countries across Europe, people are adding their signatures to 2m-high golden stars symbolising sustainable energy options. These stars, provided by Friends of the Earth, will be incorporated into a large installation of a mock-EU flag outside the EU Summit on 9th March.

Also, in Georgia, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden, Friends of the Earth groups have organised public actions in which people built snowmen as poignant symbols of the victims of climate change. [1]


[1] Photos of the snowmen actions