Pipe: Europe

EU and the Arctic: from ‘rule maker’ to ‘growth facilitator’?

Fri, 2014-03-21 09:55

The EU confirmed its engagement in Arctic development by securing an ambitious, new EU-Greenland Partnership Agreement for 2014-2020. The European Parliament also passed a new resolution on the Arctic. However, the challenge for the EU is to be perceived as a ‘growth facilitator’ rather than as a ‘rule maker’ in the region, writes Damien Degeorges.

Damien Degeorges is Head of EU Affairs at Arctic Consensus.

As a consequence of climate change, the Arctic region is on the cusp of a new era. Increasing maritime traffic through polar routes illustrates the unique position of the Arctic in global economic affairs, as the region links America, Europe and Asia. The level of current interest in the area is unprecedented

The European Union has enormous growth potential up north. One of the key areas in the Arctic being Greenland, the European Union has a constructive role to play, by securing the development of this self-ruled territory. Given Greenland’s strategic assets, and its changing relationship with Denmark, a strong and sustainable Greenland economy is critical in securing a stable framework for future regional developments.

Greenland, one the most strategic Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), has everything to attract everyone. It has become a meeting place for global interests, especially for the US, the EU and China. The European Union has played a leading role in the development of the education sector in Greenland, an absolutely key area.

Apart from the existing tools that the European Union has at its disposal to contribute to Greenland's economy, a region within the EU could contribute to further strengthening EU-Greenland relations: for 40 years, North Denmark has provided a ‘bridge’ between Greenland and Europe via the Port of Aalborg, Europe’s only base port for Greenland. Approximately 80% of Greenland’s external trade passes through Aalborg.

Old ties between the North Denmark Region and Greenland, as well as expected developments in Greenland, led to the establishment of ‘Arctic Consensus’, a consortium based in Aalborg, Denmark’s third largest municipality, and established by the North Denmark Region, Aalborg University, the Port of Aalborg and Aalborg Municipality.

EU regional policy, through the North Denmark Region, could be used to indirectly boost growth in Greenland. More awareness of this channel is needed. In order to ensure a regular discussion on Arctic issues in Brussels, Arctic Consensus is launching the North Denmark Arctic Dialogue, with an inaugural seminar, on Arctic shipping routes, taking place on March 25th, at the North Denmark EU-Office, in Brussels.

By further supporting the development of Greenland, the European Union can profile itself in a constructive way as a ‘growth facilitator’ and gain more respectability among other Arctic stakeholders.


Induktives Laden für Elektroautos: Rumms und rein mit dem Strom

Fri, 2014-03-21 09:53
Keine dreckigen Finger, kein Kabelsalat: Der Hamburger Elektrofahrzeuge-Hersteller Karabag hat eine Lösung gefunden, um das nervige Aufladen von E-Autos einfacher zu machen. Größter Kunde für die kabellose Aufladestation ist der Flugzeugbauer Airbus.

Chancellor misses an opportunity, says the BVRLA

Fri, 2014-03-21 06:19
The Chancellor has missed a major opportunity to support ultra-low emission vehicles in his 2014 Budget, according to the BVRLA.

Park-App für Lkw: Platz da?

Fri, 2014-03-21 04:21
Jeden Abend beginnt auf Autobahnen unter Brummi-Fahrern der Kampf um die letzten noch freien Lkw-Parkplätze. Für Fernfahrer bedeutet das Stress - und teilweise echte Gefahr. Ein Unternehmer aus Karlsruhe hat eine ebenso einfache wie effektive Hilfe entwickelt.

Russian energy threat galvanises EU ‘climate hawks’

Thu, 2014-03-20 12:28

EU heads of states will discuss the bloc’s 2030 climate agenda with a renewed sense of urgency in Brussels Friday (21 March) amid calls to reduce the EU’s dependency on Russian gas imports following the annexation of Crimea and looming trade sanctions on Moscow.

The EU summit discussions on climate change appeared like a foretold story.

Ministerial talks held in preparation of the EU leadership meeting centred on re-balancing business and environmental objectives, an apparent concession to energy-intensive industries which had complained vocally about the high costs of the EU’s “unilateral” climate change policies.

“Several member states pointed to the need for a more balanced approach between the EU's industrial, energy and climate policies,” stated the EU’s 28 industry ministers who met in Brussels on 20-21 February.

>> Read: EU eyes softer climate policies to fuel ‘industrial renaissance’

In the run-up to the summit discussion, the EU had lowered its environmental ambitions for 2030, announcing a change of course from its existing 2020 climate agenda.

"We should avoid boiling down the debate to three digits,” said a senior diplomat from a large EU member state, referring to the EU’s 2020 climate goals, which mandate a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 20% share of renewables in the bloc’s energy mix by the end of the decade.

"I wish we stopped saying that we can always do more," the diplomat added in reference to the European Commission’s proposed objective for 2030, which suggests cutting emissions further, by 40% compared to 1990 levels.

Treading carefully, the EU Executive also proposed increasing the share of renewables to 27% of the bloc’s total energy use, but refrained from breaking those down into binding national objectives, as in the current 2020 plan. To the disappointment of green energy businesses and environmental groups, there was also no legally-binding objective for energy efficiency.

“We need to learn from the 2020 climate framework and be both ambitious and pragmatic before setting targets,” said the diplomat, adding that the EU needed to be more “realistic” about its energy and climate goals.

“I think all of us have realised the mistakes committed in the past,” admitted Kostis Hatzidakis, the Greek minister for development and competitiveness who chaired last month’s meeting of industry ministers.

EU climate position to be agreed ‘no later than October 2014’

But Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the resulting EU sanctions on Moscow, have refocused Friday’s climate and energy debate on cutting Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Britain circulated a discussion paper ahead of the summit, citing a range of options to do this, including asking the United States to export more gas, and working more closely with Iraq. Speeding up shale gas exploitation is also high on Europe’s priority list.

>> Read: UK sketches out Europe's energy alternatives to Russia

>> Read also: Business calls on shale gas to end Russian dependence

“Efforts to reduce Europe's high gas energy dependency rates should be intensified, especially for the most dependent member states,” read the draft summit conclusions, obtained by EurActiv.

And to widespread acclaim from clean energy campaigners, the communiqué also gives renewed impetus to renewables and energy efficiency.

“Moderating energy demand through enhanced energy efficiency should be the first step which will also contribute to other energy and climate objectives,” reads the draft, which also urges EU countries to “develop renewable and other indigenous energy sources”.

The European Commission is asked to draw up an in-depth study of EU energy dependence by June 2014: “The plan should reflect the fact that the EU needs to accelerate further diversification of its energy supply, increase its bargaining power and energy efficiency, continue to develop renewable and other indigenous energy sources and coordinate the development of the infrastructure to support this diversification in a sustainable manner.”

Moreover, EU countries pledge to “show solidarity in case of sudden disruptions of energy supply in one or several member states.”

Environmental campaigners are not enthused however, saying it is unlikely that EU leaders will endorse concrete climate targets for 2030 but only set out “a timetable for agreement before the end of the year,” according to a pre-summit briefing by Greenpeace.

The draft summit conclusions say the European Union will submit its contribution “as quickly as possible and no later than October 2014”. Previous drafts referred to the first quarter of 2015 as a deadline, “as should all major economies,” reflecting a renewed sense of urgency in the EU climate discussion.

Clash expected between climate ‘hawks’ and ‘realists’

Friday’s summit talks are expected to see a clash between “climate change hawks” represented by Nordic and Western EU countries, and “climate change realists” coming chiefly from Central and Eastern Europe, a diplomat from the latter group said.

“We should link our speed to the readiness of others,” the diplomat said, referring to other global players, including the USA and the emerging economies. He added that the EU should not repeat the mistakes of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate summit, when the EU “wanted to lead” globally by its high ambition and example, but was not followed by others. 

By stating its quantitative targets too early, the EU will not be able to convince the rest of the world that it should follow, the diplomat indicated, saying his country was asking to link the level of the EU ambition to global readiness “to contribute equally and proportionally, in a commensurate way”.

This is precisely what the EU employers’ organisation BusinessEurope is asking.

Alexandre Affre, director for industrial affairs at BusinessEurope, says the Commission’s proposed 40% greenhouse gas reduction target “would be realistic only if we achieve a global climate agreement” at the December 2015 UN climate conference in Paris.

“Whatever the agreement at Paris is, the EU has to set a greenhouse gas reduction target. But the level of ambition needs to be adjusted according to the outcome of the Paris climate summit,” Affre said.


Billigauto von Volkswagen: Wolfsburg will die halbe Milliarde

Thu, 2014-03-20 10:13
Volkswagen will in Schwellenländern den Erfolg des Käfers wiederholen: die Motorisierung der Massen. Noch im Sommer soll der Aufsichtsrat über den Bau eines Billigautos abstimmen. Doch die letzten Schritte sind die schwierigsten.

Climate policy agreement can secure Europe’s energy future

Thu, 2014-03-20 06:31

Uncertain energy policy is undermining investor confidence. That means that the sooner the EU agrees clear policies, the sooner investors can start planning for complex investments which can last for decades, writes Stephanie Pfeifer.

Stephanie Pfeifer is chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change which represents 88 European investors worth a combined €7.5 trillion.

Europe is facing an energy investment shortfall. According to the European Commission, the EU needs €1 trillion of investment by 2020, and policy makers are looking to private investors to provide the bulk of this capital.

However, uncertain policy is undermining investor confidence, with the impact on investment levels plain to see. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, investment in clean energy in Europe last year fell 40% from 2012 to just $54 billion. Shrinking investment threatens Europe’s energy security and the EU’s vision of a low-carbon economy.

Tomorrow, European leaders can change this situation. By accepting the proposals for Europe’s climate and energy policy to 2030 as outlined by the Commission last month, they can show the urgency and leadership that will get investment going.

The sooner the EU agrees on clear policies, the sooner investors can start planning for complex investments which can last for decades. Delaying now, as some have argued, just as policy which could plot a route out of the crisis is on the table, would keep the brake on investment.

European leaders should prioritise agreement on a 40% emissions target. Delaying agreement on a target would not only discourage much-needed investment. It would make it more difficult for the EU to influence global climate talks. A 40% target is the minimum needed to keep Europe on a cost-effective course for a low-carbon economy. Investors would therefore encourage a more ambitious target once a global climate deal has been agreed to in Paris next year. A strong target would clearly signal Europe’s commitment to a low-carbon future, and is in line with what science says is needed to avoid dangerous climate change.

A key plank of the 2030 proposals is reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme. A high and stable carbon price signal is essential to drive low-carbon investments, because it enables investors to cost these over the long-term. The Commission’s plans are an important first step. However they do not end the uncertainty.

There is some concern about what will happen when allowances, temporarily withheld to boost the price, come back on the market. The suggestion is that the introduction of the proposed market stability reserve - which will regulate the number of allowances in circulation from 2021 - be brought forward to absorb any excess surplus. Reform is critical to ensure the ETS can stimulate low-carbon investment in the way it was designed.

Some have argued that the EU’s climate and energy policies harm Europe’s competitiveness, and a higher carbon price could force businesses to relocate. As shareholders in all the major listed industrial companies in Europe, our members take genuine competitiveness concerns related to “carbon leakage” seriously, and support leakage protections where necessary.

However, this is a complex issue, with competitiveness not determined by a single factor, but by a host of structural factors such as relatively high natural gas prices and the cost of imported energy. The World Economic Forum has said that a country’s innovation environment, rather than its energy prices, is the most important indicator of competitiveness.

Good climate policy can spur innovation. A strong climate and energy framework is central to Europe’s future competitiveness, not a drag on it. A robust and reliable carbon price is part of this.

A critical juncture on climate and energy policy has been reached. The choice facing leaders tomorrow is between delay or action. Delay, which would create further uncertainty and risk the energy investment Europe urgently needs. Or action, which would stimulate low-carbon investment and guarantee Europe’s future energy security.


Autogramm Maserati Ghibli S Q4: Vier gewinnt

Thu, 2014-03-20 04:29
Business-Class, die nächste: Mit dem SQ 4 fahren die Italiener die nächste Attacke in der Mittelklasse, vor allem gegen Audi: Ab sofort gibt es den Viertürer auch mit Allradantrieb. Das Konzept überzeugt - auch wenn an manchen Stellen die Liebe zum Detail fehlt. 

EU lawmakers reject deal to exempt foreign flights from CO2 charges

Thu, 2014-03-20 03:12

Lawmakers in the European Parliament's Environment Committee voted on Wednesday (19 March) to reject a compromise deal exempting long-haul flights from the EU's aviation emissions scheme until the end of 2016, saying the EU would not bow to foreign pressure.

The Parliament committee vote raised the prospect of a return to stringent polluting rules on foreign airlines vigorously opposed by China, Russia and the United States as infringing their sovereignty.

The committee members in Brussels failed to pass the deal brokered by EU diplomats earlier this month to extend a so-called "stop the clock" measure exempting intercontinental flights from regulation under the bloc's Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The decision still needs to be confirmed by a vote in the full European Parliament meeting in plenary session.

'MEPs do not like to be bullied'

"Today's vote simply means that MEPs do not like being bullied by third countries into dismantling EU climate legislation," said German MEP and chair of the environment committee, Matthias Groote.

The motion will now go to a full vote by the European Parliament, scheduled for 3 April.

"The committee result is most worrying," said Athar Husain Khan, CEO of the Association of European Airlines (AEA).

But Aoife O'Leary of Brussels-based green group Transport & Environment called it a "bad deal" that was rightly rejected.

"This decision sends the clear signal to political leaders in member states, to industry and to foreign countries that the EU's sovereignty is not subject to external bullying," she said.

Negotiators from the European Parliament, the European Commission, and member states represented by current EU president Greece, on 4 March agreed a tentative deal to extend an existing suspension of EU law for flights into and out of the 28-nation bloc.

Those airlines were from 2012 forced under EU law to surrender a permit for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emitted during the entirely of their flights, but those rules were temporarily suspended later that year amid international pressure.

Trade tensions

Failure to get final agreement on the compromise before the end of April would mean the original law is reinstated, likely reigniting trade tensions with Europe's major trading partners such as China and the United States, who said the measure breached sovereignty rules.

"Given the international controversy around the aviation ETS that we have witnessed during the past years, we believe that a full ETS is not a realistic option and that it would have a negative impact on European airlines, their operations and their employees," the AEA's Khan said.

The vote of the cross-party environment committee is a preliminary indication of whether the proposal, which is supported by other parliamentary committees including those governing transport and industry, can win enough support in the full parliament.

"I think plenary will pass it. Everyone agrees that reinstating the original compliance coverage on 30 April is unacceptable. From a timeframe standpoint, there is too much pressure not to pass it," said Emil Dimantchev, an analyst with Thomson Reuters Point Carbon.

In its current form, the agreement would maintain the suspension of the law for intercontinental flights until 2016, with a provision to revert back to making all airlines pay for allowances in 2017 if a global deal on curtailing aviation emissions cannot be agreed.

The UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last October agreed it would deliver a global plan to curb airline emissions by 2016 for implementation in 2020.

The European Commission's responded by proposing an amended measure to only charge aircraft for emissions in EU airspace.

That proposal, backed by many European lawmakers but rejected by Britain, France and Germany, eventually evolved into the compromise struck earlier this month


Budget 2014 gives support for ultra low emission company cars; incentives for zero emission vans and low carbon fuel

Wed, 2014-03-19 11:03

The Chancellor has announced changes to Company Car Tax which will mean that a discount for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) will be extended beyond 2016-17. In Budget 2014, there is also encouragement for the zero emission vans and for the uptake of methanol as a transport fuel.


Autogramm Nissan GT-R: Das Ende der Einsamkeit

Wed, 2014-03-19 09:13
Nissan verpasst seinem Sportwagen GT-R ein Update. Mit mehr Fahrkomfort soll der Wagen endlich beziehungstauglich werden. Bisher waren Piloten am Steuer des japanischen Provokateurs sehr, sehr einsam.

AIO boss points to investors 'real interest' in UK automotive’s strength in low-carbon R&D.

Wed, 2014-03-19 08:33

Joe Greenwell, CEO of the Automotive Investment Organisation, speaking at SMMT's Open Forum said that there is ‘real interest’ from investors in UK automotive’s growing aptitude for low-carbon R&D. A former Chair of Shell, Greenwell said that UK is making progress in investment attracting projects.


EU climate ambitions clouded by calendar issues

Wed, 2014-03-19 04:14

EU heads of states preparing for a summit opening in Brussels tomorrow (20 March) are divided about when to adopt a new climate change target, as the European Commission’s preferred 40% greenhouse gas reductions goal hoves into the distance.

Draft summit conclusions, seen by EurActiv, highlight the scale of the divisions, with two dates offered for signing off on an agreed European position on the proposed greenhouse gas reduction goal.  

A common position to be submitted to the December 2015 UN climate summit in Paris should be ready “by the first quarter of 2015,” one passage reads. The next page flags a decision on a 2030 package to reduce greenhouse gas output “before the end of the year”.

This raises the prospect of the EU relinquishing its global leadership role in the UNFCCC process for, as “a solid agreement has to be built a long time before,” according to French negotiators.

The EU leaders' discussion on climate and energy targets is shelved behind the two main topics - growth, competitiveness and jobs, and industrial competitiveness.

The first sentence of the climate and energy conclusions itself begins with the stated objective that any EU energy and climate policy must “ensure affordable energy prices, industrial competitiveness, security of supply and achievement of our climate and environmental objectives,” in a display of how far global warming has fallen down the EU’s political agenda.

Poland, with some support from eastern European countries appears to have won a push for no decision to be taken on 2030 climate and energy targets until 2015, despite nominal opposition from powerful bloc players such as the UK, France and Germany.

The Commission issued a proposal last January for a 40% emissions reductions scenario with 27% of the EU’s total energy mix coming from renewables, although member states could choose their own clean energy ratio.

France had expected to convince emerging countries and the US to make a strong commitment to a global deal by adopting a strong European position at this week's EU summit meeting.

That now seems unlikely to happen. The two timeframes underlined in the draft conclusions reveal the gap between countries on the climate issue. Other energy topics quoted in the draft conclusions do not show great ambition either.

The document repeats an EU commitment from 2002 for member states to achieve interconnection of at least 10% of installed electricity production capacity in a “speedy” fashion. The target should have been reached in 2005.


Brände am 911 GT3: Porsche gibt Ursache für Feuergefahr bekannt

Wed, 2014-03-19 03:59
Noch vor wenigen Tagen gab sich Porsche in Sachen Feuergefahr beim 911 GT3 geheimnisvoll, jetzt hat der Sportwagenhersteller die Ursache bekannt gegeben. In der Folge werden bei allen Modellen der Baureihe die Motoren getauscht. 

Parliament set for 'drama' over aviation emissions vote

Wed, 2014-03-19 03:38

A compromise agreement reached with EU member states earlier this month over carbon emission allowances for aviation is set for rejection in the European Parliament today (19 March) as political groups have rallied to denounce “bullying” from China, Russia and the United States.

The centre-right European Peoples’ Party (EPP) is the only political group certain to support the deal reached with member states over the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) for aviation.

Following the Greens, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group told EurActiv Tuesday (18 March) that a decision had been taken at party level to reject the deal in a vote due to take place in the European Parliament’s environment committee on Wednesday afternoon (19 March).

“Except one MEP from Spain, the S&D has rejected the deal,” the source said, explaining that the compromise agreement was “undermining the credibility of the EU”.

The Parliament and Council, which represents the 28 EU member states, started negotiations last month and came to a “watered down” agreement early March. To the disappointment of many MEPs, the compromise deal exempts long-haul flights from the EU aviation emissions directive. The decision is seen as weaker than the initial proposal from the European Commission, and the text voted in Parliament on 30 January, which favour an “airspace approach” covering all airliners flying over the European airspace.

'Bullied like Ukraine'

Chris Davies, a British MEP who is shadow rapporteur on the proposal for the Liberal ALDE group, walked out of the negotiations with the Council and called on his group to reject the deal too.

An angered Davies spoke to EurActiv, denouncing the so-called "trilogues" with the Council as “an abomination".

"It is not (a) co-decision, there are no arrangements and the Parliament is likely to be run over by the Council,” Davies said. The British MEP explained that the Greek EU presidency, which steers negotiations in the Council, had failed to keep its promises to MEPs on key items, including the date for the 'stop the clock' policy and the allocation of revenues generated by the scheme, which Parliament wants to allocate to global warming policies.

But “on both issues the Council is fixed,” Davies said.

The British MEP also said he was “fed up of being bullied by China and the US, but especially China, who threatens to cancel Airbus orders” if the full-scope of the aviation scheme comes into force.

Threats from third countries led the EU to back down on its ambitious environmental policy for aviation, a sector responsible for 5% of global emissions. In 2012, the European Commission decided to "stop the clock" on the aviation ETS in order to give the time for the United Nations to come up with a global mechanism. China, Russia and the US had complained that the draft European legislation was in breach of international law.

A letter sent by the CEO of Airbus to the Chinese government revealed that the European company had been working to undermine the EU’s attempts to put in place the ETS, despite a ruling by the European Court of Justice that the emissions scheme did not infringe international law.

“Manufacturers of Airbus are afraid of the Chinese reaction, it’s like being Ukraine!” Chris Davies said denouncing, like many others, the “attacks on European sovereignty” from third countries.

Back to full-scope ETS?

When coming to the negotiating table with member states, European lawmakers strongly insisted on shortening the STC deadline to 2016, in order to pressure the UN, and for helping make a mandatory decision on the allocation of revenues from emission allowance auctions for climate change purposes.

Unsatisfied with the outcome of the talks, MEPs could reject the deal entirely this afternoon, leaving the door open, at least in theory, for a return to the original European legislation covering all flights departing and landing on EU territory.

“The full ETS is working, it’s a system that works, it’s easy to calculate and a majority of airlines pay for their allowances,” Davies said, “and those who don’t can be forced to.”

However, reverting to the full ETS is politically unlikely, even if MEPs vote against the agreement today.

“The Commission said it would not enforce a full ETS,” reminded Aoife O’Leary, a policy officer at Transport and Environment (T&E), a green campaign group. “No one believes we will go back to that, but we should fight for the airspace approach,” she said. T&E launched a campaign urging MEPs to vote against the deal because it is “environmentally ineffective and does not put pressure in ICAO”.

By rejecting the deal, opponents also hope to push the member states to “really negotiate”, since “they did not give in very much”, O’Leary said, “and they scared everyone with the timeline.”

Options open

Several options are available for the environment committee rapporteur, Peter Liese, if MEPs reject the agreement today.

Liese could decide to send the report for a plenary vote and table the trilogue agreement in the form of amendments. MEPs are more likely to favour the text in plenary since industry-friendly committees like transport and industry will be voting, too.

Another option, favoured by green campaigners and environment-friendly MEPs, is to go back to trilogue negotiations and force member states to make more concessions.

The decision will be up to the rapporteur of the environment committee, in case of rejection, but the deal could still be adopted if enough MEPs join the EPP in approving the text.


Streit über Gedicht: Schwedischer Akademie missfällt Mercedes-Werbespot

Tue, 2014-03-18 11:22
Der Kommerz und die Kunst: Die Schwedische Akademie sah in einem Mercedes-Werbespot das Vermächtnis einer bekannten Lyrikerin verletzt - und drohte sogar mit Klage.

Welsh Assembly sets out plans to boost low carbon vehicle sector at Cardiff event

Tue, 2014-03-18 08:01

The Welsh Assembly Government has set out an action plan to support the growth of the low carbon vehicle sector in Wales. The plan was launched at an event held on 18 March in Cardiff which was attended by the Economy Minister Edwina Hart.


EU Summit Live: EU leaders search to de-escalate Ukraine crisis

Tue, 2014-03-18 06:57

EU heads of state gather in Brussels on Thursday and Friday (20-21 March) for their last EU Summit before the EU elections in May. Main topics on the negotiation table include a way out of the crisis in Ukraine, and the EU's economic and industrial recovery. EurActiv follows up all developments live, in the feed below.

[View the story "EU Summit Live: March 2014" on Storify]

The time to act on climate is now

Tue, 2014-03-18 05:18

EU leaders will decide the future of European climate policy. EU citizens are worried about climate change and politicians cannot afford to postpone decisive steps forward any longer, Wendel Trio writes.

Wendel Trio is the director of Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe).

This week, our leaders will make a decision on the future of European climate policy after discussing the European Commission’s proposal for a new EU climate and energy package. This crucial test for EU Heads of State and government will show whether or not they will take the necessary action now to protect us, our children and grandchildren from the dangerous and uncontrollable impacts of climate change.

The Commission’s proposal does not guarantee that the EU will meet its fair share of the world’s commitment to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, which has been a cornerstone of EU climate policy since 1996. Indeed, it was the EU that convinced other global leaders to commit to the 2°C limit, based on its identification by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the point above which global warming would become catastrophic. It’s unthinkable for the EU to walk away from this promise at this critical time as impacts are beginning to escalate.

After the localized catastrophic climate events of the past two years, not just in developing countries but also all over the developed world, including the UK, Germany, Portugal and Spain, it’s time for them to take off their blinders and listen to the people. EU leaders need inject this proposal with more ambition and make sure efforts are shared equitably. We need an emissions reduction goal that represents more than business as usual. Our leaders must also call for greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy and energy savings to be focused by three mutually reinforcing targets.

A recent Eurobarometer survey shows that 7 out of 10 Europeans recognize climate change as a “very serious” threat. If more than two thirds of Europeans are very worried about climate change, it is surely egregious if our leaders are not taking action to combat it.

Our low carbon future is within our grasp. This future is what Europeans need, one with healthy air, a stable climate, plentiful, safe and secure energy supplies and comfortable homes, a future in which we reap the financial benefits of reduced energy consumption and more renewable energy production. We are at a very critical juncture between vision and climate chaos. Every bad decision that our leaders make now will make it much harder and hugely more expensive to catch up in our needed efforts to decarbonise later.

We find it impossible to believe the EU would delay a decision on this package. After all, discussions have been ongoing for months already while climate impacts continue to mount across Europe. We agree with progressive Ministers from the Green Growth Group who spoke out recently that a decision must not be put off. Our leaders must not delay agreement, as it would send the wrong signal to the international community. Everyone is pushing for the EU to retake its leadership role as a first step towards an ambitious and fair international climate agreement in Paris next year. Let’s hope our leaders listen. 


Alphabet calls for continued Government support for EVs in Budget

Tue, 2014-03-18 05:13
Alphabet is calling for the Government to provide further certainty on electric vehicle (EV) subsidies in the Budget tomorrow (Wednesday, March 19).