EU leaders stuck on repeat post-Copenhagen

26 March 2010

Brussels, March 26 - European leaders meeting formally today for the first time since the disappointment of December's Copenhagen talks did not breathe much-needed new life into efforts to combat climate change.

No new actions were agreed at the Spring Summit which assessed the state of play post-Copenhagen. EU Heads of State merely restated their inadequate target of 20% emissions reductions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, with a conditional offer of 30% cuts if other countries increase their commitments. These figures are not consistent with what science and climate justice demand, and will not help achieve progress in international negotiations.

Heads of States once again failed to deliver Europe's fair share of the finances needed to enable developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The meeting simply repeated the insufficient offers of EUR 2.4 billion short term finance, mostly repackaged development aid, and the global commitment to US Dollars 100 billion long-term finance annually by 2020.

Although the economic crisis and financial market regulation were discussed, the summit did not seize the opportunity to make progress on innovative revenue-raising measures such as a financial transaction tax [1] which could deliver hundreds of billions of Euros annually for fighting climate change and other global issues. The upcoming report from the European Commission on innovative sources for finance could move this debate forward.

Sonja Meister, climate campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "When talking about climate change the EU sounds like a stuck record. The EU is right that pledges made since Copenhagen are not enough to limit climate change to safe levels and more ambition is needed. But Europe has failed to do its homework and must step up its own target to at least 40% cuts within the EU by 2020.

"Europe must find a way to deliver new additional money to pay for its fair share of climate finance for developing countries. Instead of continuing to table lump sums of mainly repackaged development aid, and relying on promised miracles from carbon markets, they should agree to push internationally for innovative measures such as a financial transaction tax which would deliver hundreds of billions of Euros per year to tackle climate change and other urgent causes."

Friends of the Earth Europe in partnership with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has conducted research showing that 40% cuts by 2020 and 90% by 2050 without offsetting are technically feasible in Europe. [2] Scientists have confirmed that this is the scale of reductions needed to stay well below a 2°C global temperature increase.



[1] The financial transaction tax (FTT), also known as a 'Robin Hood Tax', is a tiny tax on financial market transactions. Even at very low rates of 0.05% or less, this tax could raise hundreds of billions of Euros annually for domestic and international projects and would cost governments and ordinary citizens nothing. At the same time, it would help reducing high-speculative transactions that caused the current crisis. See:

[2] "Europe's share of the climate challenge – domestic actions and international obligations to protect the planet." SEI, December 2008.