Brussels, Belgium/Poznan, Poland - Today's agreement by EU leaders on the most contentious aspects of the EU's planned response to climate change, known as the climate and energy package, has been condemned as a failure by Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF.
Green and development groups described today's deal on the Effort Sharing law (which sets national emission targets for sectors not included in the EU's emissions trading) as inconsistent with the EU's long-standing target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
More specifically, EU premiers only made a weak and ambiguous commitment to the 30% reduction in EU emissions by 2020 they had trumpeted just last year. Furthermore, today's agreement would mean that unacceptably high levels - around two thirds - of these reductions could be met by buying carbon credits from projects outside of EU borders. EU leaders also refused to introduce measures, such as fines, to compel countries to meet their national targets - a fundamental flaw, which could prompt governments to think that they can get away with inaction.
Green and development groups are therefore calling on the European Parliament to show strong support for far greater European emission reduction efforts when it votes next week on effort sharing and reject today's deal on this law. European citizens should express their outrage - and ask their national parliaments to stop external credits being used to buy the way out of real emission reductions within Europe.
In discussions over the future of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), practically full exemptions from requirements to buy carbon permits were agreed for the European manufacturing sector. This was in the absence of any strong evidence that such a requirement would impact on the international competitiveness of these industries. Following mainly Polish efforts, even the polluting power sector was awarded exemptions from having to pay for such permits in auctions, in spite of the huge windfall profits it has reaped by passing on the costs of permits it has so far received for free to customers.
European environment and development groups insist that auctioning must become the norm for all industries covered by the ETS when the system comes up for review. Industries must pay if they don't reduce their pollution and the revenues generated used to fund tackling climate change in developing countries and in Europe.
Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF said: "This is a dark day for European climate policy. European heads of state and government have reneged on their promises and turned their backs on global efforts to fight climate change.
"Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi, Donald Tusk and Nicolas Sarkozy should be ashamed. They have chosen the private profits of polluting industry over the will of European citizens, the future of their children and the plight of millions of people around the world. The Parliament can and should amend the worst parts of today's deal."
The EU also abjectly failed to make binding commitments to provide funds to help developing countries to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, and to reduce the growth in their emissions - a move which has threatened the collapse of the ongoing UN climate negotiations in Poland. Campaigners demand that EU leaders immediately resume talks on financial commitments to developing countries and produce an adequate, binding proposal by March 2009. UN climate talks urgently need the EU to show it is willing to pay its fair share of the costs of tackling climate change.