Embarrassment: EU leaders fail to agree on a strong climate deal

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Creative Commons License Photo credit: rockcohen

Leaders from the European Union (EU) have just agreed on a new watered-down climate deal to tackle global warming. The actual emissions cuts could amount to as little as 4% by 2020.

Yesterday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in Poznan that “the world is watching us. The next generation is counting on us. We must not fail.” He also called for the EU to show the way and leadership on the climate crisis for other countries. Unfortunately it seems the short-sighted “leaders” of Europe ignored him. Instead of 30% emission cuts by 2020 the EU leaders only agreed on cuts by 20% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

But the actual emission cuts could end up being as little as 4% by 2020, environmental groups warned. That is because of special exemptions for dirty industries in Europe as well as allowing cheap emission cuts overseas to be counted to the EU total. The latter has been heavily pushed by the new Swedish right-wing government who has called for as much as 88% of the EU emission cuts to be allowed to do overseas in development countries.

“EU leaders will probably trumpet the deal on climate change as a great success, but in reality this is a big failure in EU ambition,” said Delia Villagrasa, Senior Advisor to WWF.

“Basically, Europe just decided to off-set about two thirds of its own greenhouse gas emissions, to have consumers pay for emissions permits that polluting companies get for free and to avoid supporting poorer countries in the fight to climate change. This is not quite the third industrial revolution we were expecting,

“The result of this race to the bottom is that Europe will reduce its own greenhouses gas emissions significantly less than the proclaimed 20% target by 2020.”

EU leaders on the other hand have said the new climate deal is “historic” and “ambitious”.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the plans "the most ambitious proposals anywhere in the world", saying that "Europe has today passed its credibility test. We mean business when we talk about climate."

And French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a press conference in Brussels that “this is historic” and that it “was difficult up to the last minute” to reach an agreement on the deal.

“A flagship E.U. policy now has no pilot, a mutinous crew and numerous holes in its fuselage,” said Sanjeev Kumar of the environment group WWF.

“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,” Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF said in a joint statement today.

“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.”


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Simon Leufstedt
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