Tuesday, 21 October 2008

European climate leadership runs down blind alley

Environmental NGOs of the Time-to-Lead-Alliance have yesterday accused the EU Environment Ministers of supporting old-fashioned, inefficient and wasteful industries at the expense of those that innovate and create new jobs. During the discussion on the EU climate and energy package, ministers are also watering down the emission reduction proposals for non-industrial sectors, undermining the best chance to help European households suffering from high energy bills. At the meeting of the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg protectionism was the call of the day, with ministers defending as a priority the short term interests of a small portion of European industry, rather than pushing to protect European citizens from the most dangerous impacts of climate change and put an end to our dependency on expensive fossil fuels. The ministers opened the door for free CO2 permits for electricity production and weakened rules for free permits to manufacturing industries.

Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace and WWF said: "Today's level of debate was extremely poor and gave more room to the opportunistic demands of the Polish and Italian governments, who want to give old fashioned, inefficient and wasteful industries a free ride at the expense of innovation and job creation. These positions are particularly ironic since ministers also expressed high hopes for the UN climate summit next year in Copenhagen." One week after EU countries agreed to release €2000bn in support of the financial sector, Environment Ministers are backtracking on the €70-90bn investments needed by 2020 to safeguard future generations through the EU climate and energy package. Italy and Poland fail to grasp where Europe and the world's future lie and what unabated climate change will cost the world. Furthermore the Polish government has shown itself to be unfit to lead the next international climate negotiations taking place in December in Poznan. The international community should actively look for a new chair.

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