Europe falls behind Japan and Norway on emission reduction commitments

Last edited 21 October 2009 at 5:34pm
21 October, 2009

European environment ministers, including Ed Miliband, today agreed Europe's position going into December's global climate summit in Copenhagen when they met in Brussels.

By failing to bring commitments on emission cuts in line with scientific requirements, Europe has now fallen behind Japan and Norway, and Europe's position is not strong enough to unlock the stalled international climate negotiations.

Gordon Brown's meeting with European leaders in Brussels next week will be the last chance the EU has of giving the global climate negotiations a much-needed boost before Copenhagen.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said:

"As it stands, Europe's lack of ambition in terms of cuts in carbon, and its non-existent commitment to providing money for developing countries to adapt to climate change, means we're further than ever from a real breakthrough in Copenhagen. With Japan and Norway taking the international leadership position away from Europe, its clear there's a real need for a step change from European leaders when they meet next week."

Environment ministers have only reiterated a conditional commitment to a 30 per cent cut under a global agreement in Copenhagen. But countries such as Japan and Norway have already committed to strong cuts that are more in line with recommendations from the world's leading scientists. [1]

Ministers also agreed today they would propose targets for reductions in global emissions from shipping and aviation (by 20 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, compared to 2005 levels). This is actually an increase in emissions from these sectors by more than a third from 1990 levels.

John Sauven added:

"Once again European governments are proposing to give special treatment to the aviation and shipping industries. Whilst all other European industries are legally bound to make significant cuts, under Europe's proposals these two industries would be permitted to grow their emissions by more than a third. It just doesn't make sense. In practice this is bad news for the European economy, as other industries will inevitably have to make deeper cuts so ships and planes can have a bigger slice of the pie."

Notes to editors:

[1] Japan has committed to 25 per cent emission reductions, compared to 1990 levels. Based on the European Commission's indicators of national emission levels, efficiency levels, wealth (GDP per capita) and population development, Japan's commitment is comparable to a 30 per cent EU reduction target. Norway is committed to a unilateral 40 per cent emission cut.

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