EU maps out road to climate catastrophe

8 March 2011

Two important climate and energy papers were released today by the European Commission in Brussels amid criticism from Friends of the Earth Europe.

The environmental group argues that the proposals for how Europe might tackle climate change over the next 40 years show the EU is effectively abandoning its pledge to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

The '2050 Low Carbon Roadmap' document advocates that the EU steps up its emission cuts to 25% by 2020. Delivering the reductions would rely on the EU successfully meeting its energy efficiency target. But Friends of the Earth's analysis of scientific evidence shows that a 25% reduction is almost certain to lead to global temperature increases of more than 2 degrees. [1] This is the 'tipping point' that scientists say should be avoided to prevent the worst impacts of climate change such as more frequent severe weather and the loss of species and habitats.

The 'Energy Efficiency Plan' recognises that the EU is not on track to meeting its 2020 energy savings target of a 20% reduction in energy use compared to business as usual, but puts off stronger action until 2013.

Reacting to the publications, Friends of the Earth Europe climate and energy campaigner Brook Riley said: "The proposals outlined today make a strong economic case for bigger emissions cuts within Europe – instead of through the discredited international offset system. But the objective of reducing emissions by 25% by 2020 still means we will almost certainly exceed 2 degrees of average global temperature rises. Politicians seem willing to run the risk of bringing on climate chaos and the devastation that will mean for people in Europe and around the world. An EU target of 25% is not enough: only 40% cuts by 2020 will offer a decent chance of keeping global warming under control."

The '2050 Low Carbon Roadmap' also stresses the importance of the EU's 2020 energy efficiency target, which at current projections will be missed by more than half. Meeting the target would reduce CO2 emissions by about 740 million tonnes (equivalent to 20% cuts below 2005 levels), cut annual energy bills by up to €1000 per household, and create up to two million new green jobs, according to reports released today by the European Commission.

Friends of the Earth Europe campaigner Brook Riley said: "The proposed reliance on energy efficiency to deliver higher emissions cuts boosts the case for a binding savings target. With most of the EU's energy coming from CO2 intensive fossil fuels, the fastest way to counter climate change is to reduce energy use. But the Commission's plan is blatantly contradictory - admitting we are not on track to meet efficiency targets for 2020 but in the same breath putting off stronger action until 2013."



[1] Reckless Gamblers, a report from Friends of the Earth,