Wednesday, October 22, 2014

IPCC Official Says Europe’s Planned 2030 Emission Cuts Would Be ‘Too Little Too Late’

The Parliament of the European Union in Strasbourg, France.  (Credit: Shutterstock) Click to enlarge.
Cutting Europe’s carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030 would be “too little too late” according to the vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Back in January, the European Commission — the executive body of the European Union (E.U.), which is tasked with proposing legislation among other things — proposed a new goal to cut the E.U.’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below their 1990 levels by 2030.  But the target has been in heated contention since, with Eastern European countries in particular arguing it would put an unfair burden on their economies, which are less developed compared to the rest of the Continent.

On Monday, the BBC reported that Professor Jim Skea, a vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the 40 percent cut would be insufficient.  His argument, in a nutshell, is that European politicians do not understand how much the Continent’s economy must change to reach the longer-term goal of cutting emissions 80 to 95 percent by 2050.  Because the easiest technological changes and climate protection measures have largely already been put to use, cutting emissions only 40 percent by 2030 will leave European countries poorly positioned to close the remaining distance to the 2050 goal — effectively requiring them to cut emissions by 300 percent in just two decades.

“I don’t think many people have grasped just how huge this task is,” Skea told the BBC. “It is absolutely extraordinary and unprecedented.  My guess is that 40 percent for 2030 is too little too late if we are really serious about our long-term targets.”
The European Council will meet in Brussels on October 23 and 24 to finalize the European Union’s 2030 target, which was recently updated to include a 30 percent increase in energy efficiency along with the 40 percent reduction in emissions. The Council has no lawmaking power and can only put forward recommendations; it will be up to the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the rest of the E.U.’s lawmaking apparatus to take whatever final proposals come out of this week’s meeting and turn them into actual policy. The effort will decide what concrete commitments the E.U. as a whole can bring to the international climate negotiations that will occur in Paris in 2015.

Individual countries like Denmark, Finland and the United Kingdom have already set ambitious and legally binding targets for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Still, this week’s meeting is largely seen as a decisive test of whether the E.U. members can forge a workable deal.  Diplomats told the Financial Times that sufficient promises to subsidize increased energy costs could bring Poland and its fellow objector on board. “We are optimistic about a possible compromise,” Kacperczyk continued.

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IPCC Official Says Europe’s Planned 2030 Emission Cuts Would Be ‘Too Little Too Late’

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