There has been widespread criticism from environmentalists at the outcome of last week's summit of EU leaders which aimed to lead the world to a low carbon future. And WWF has called on the EU parliament to reject parts of it.
The two-day summit ended a two-year effort to agree mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. It was claimed as a triumph by President Sarkozy of France, who is coming to the end of his six-month stint as president of the EU.
The agreed deal commits Europe to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. It overcomes the concerns of Poland, Hungary, Germany and Italy by easing the costs of the package for European manufacturers and heavy industry.
This will be done by varying the national reduction targets among the 27 countries, and through a Europe-wide carbon trading scheme that allows industries and power plants to buy permits to pollute from 2013.
However, these trading rules were relaxed under German pressure to exempt most companies in the processing industries, such as steel and cement, from paying for the permits. Power stations in central Europe were also awarded large discounts on the price of carbon.
The package includes provision for 12 pilot projects on carbon capture and storage, to develop technologies that will collect CO2 emissions from power stations and bury it underground. Funding for this will come from the proceeds of the carbon trading, which is supposed to generate tens of billions in revenue by 2020.
The agreement, though warmly praised by European leaders as a 'major advance' was immediately condemned as a failure by Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF.
WWF-UK has called on the European Parliament to reject parts of on the EU Climate and Energy Package. It described the scheme as
as inconsistent with the EU’s long-standing target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
“EU politicians may be hoping to trumpet the deal on climate change as a great success, but in reality this is a significant failure,” said Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at WWF-UK.
“Europe has essentially decided to offset almost two thirds of its own greenhouse gas emissions, to have consumers pay for emissions permits
that polluting companies will have received for free and to avoid supporting poorer countries in the fight to tackle climate change.”
“By refusing to place a pollution limit on fossil fuel power stations as part of the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Directive, EU Heads of
Government have also failed to ensure that heavily polluting power stations will no longer be part of our future and are leaving the door
open for new unabated coal throughout Europe.”