Azara Blog: EU officially announces "low carbon" policy

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Date published: 2008/01/23

The BBC says:

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has announced "historic" plans to make Europe "the first economy for the low-carbon age".

He said Europeans wanted "a vision and a plan of action" against climate change and the measures would cost 3 euros (£2.10) a week for every citizen.

The aim would be a 20% cut in the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, which could rise to 30% with a global deal.

He told the European Parliament there was a cost, "but it was manageable".

Mr Barroso put the figure at 60bn euros a year until 2020: "a real commitment, but not a bad deal." It would mean a rise in electricity prices of 10-15% but there would be less reliance on energy imports.

He said work had to start to cut global emissions in half by 2050 and he said Europe could lead the way.

Addressing business critics who have complained that the proposals might drive industry away from the European Union, the commission president said energy-intensive industries would be given emission allowances free of charge.

He told MEPs the package was "not in favour of the environment and against the economy".

"We don't want to export our jobs to other parts of the world," he said.
The commission's proposals would see the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) extended to include more industrial sectors in the years between 2013 and 2020.

Apart from a few exempt industries, the power sector would lose the right to free emission allocations and have to buy all its permits at auction from 2013. Aviation and other industries would move gradually to a full auction.

Companies' carbon allowances would be decided at European level, replacing the current system where nations submit bids to the commission.

The aim would be to reduce allowances so that by 2020, emissions from the sectors included would be about 21% below the level they were when the ETS started in 2005.

For emissions not covered by the ETS, such as transport, buildings and agriculture, the commission has proposed national targets.

Richer nations would have to cut their emissions: the target for Denmark and the Irish Republic is a 20% reduction and the UK's is 16%. The poorest would be allowed to increase emissions, Bulgaria by 20% and Romania by 19%.

Each country has been given a national target for renewable energy.

The UK's is 15%. Sweden which already has a thriving renewables industry has been given a tougher figure of 49%.
The target of powering 10% of Europe's road transport with biofuels has been retained.

But the Commission has drawn up a set of criteria designed to ensure the fuels used bring carbon savings of at least 35% compared to petrol or diesel, without causing other environmental problems.

Nothing here that hasn't been widely trailed in the media already. But Barroso is just speaking rubbish on a key point. He says "we don't want to export our jobs to other parts of the world", but the way the EU is going about this gives every incentive for countries to export jobs in carbon intensive industries. If you make steel in your own country, the EU claims you are a high carbon emitter. If you import steel made in China or India, the EU claims you are a low carbon emitter. It's complete nonsense, and is because the EU (and most of the rest of the world, for that matter) is fixated on counting emissions where they are produced, rather than where the goods (or services) are consumed. This is a fundamental flaw in the entire system of accounting, and means that the real carbon emissions of the EU could actually even rise, rather than fall (although this is unlikely). The fact that the targets are just semi-randomly chosen from country to country and from industry to industry just further goes to show how bad the entire procedure is.

And the biofuels target for road transport is just plain silly. Is there even any current large-scale biofuel that actually meets their criteria? And you can just imagine that the EU is going to have to hire zillions of consultants to assess whether every source of biofuel is, or is not, bringing "carbon savings of at least 35% compared to petrol or diesel without causing other environmental problems". Another N million euros down the drain.

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