While the ongoing financial crisis is causing problems for European governments, it is not a compelling enough reason for political leaders to dilute the proposed climate and energy package.
News of rancorous divisions at this week’s EU-27 summit meeting in Brussels does not bode well for the ambitious legislative package which by 2020 would have cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels, while mandating that 20% of Europe’s energy supply come from wind power and other renewables.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who chaired the summit, said the leaders had unanimously agreed to try and finalise the 18-month-old plan before the end of the year.
But several of the nations indicated that the current financial crisis meant their economies might no longer be able to reduce their share of emissions. There was talk of concessions from other EU countries, and of vetoes.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) believes a watered-down version of the climate and energy package is in nobody’s interest. Europe could lose a precious moment in history if it does not fully embrace the plan which has been studied by governments around the world.
Simply put, the plan provides a path to a future that will benefit all of Europe and there should be no turning back.
If endorsed, it will generate significantly larger amounts of local, sustainable and affordable energy. It means well-paying employment: the wind power industry predicts that up to 500,000 jobs will have been created in the sector by 2020. It will create opportunities for secure investment as well as for research and development. The use of non-polluting wind power and other renewables will also help de-carbonise Europe and the world.
EWEA thinks the climate and energy package will help the environment promote the economy. We also believe environmental and economic concerns should be treated equally.
As part of its financial rescue plan, the US recently extended the Production Tax Credit, which supports renewables. The same day politicians in Brussels were discussing the climate and energy package, the UK said it would cut greenhouse gases by 80% by mid-century instead of by 60% because of concerns raised in recent scientific studies on global warming.
EWEA believes the financial crisis is not a valid excuse for avoiding a strong commitment in the fight against climate change - the central argument of the Stern report and many others is that the costs of not acting are more expensive than the costs of acting. The longer Europe leaves tackling climate change, the higher the bill will get.
17 October 2008