EU Parliamentary Panel Urges 2020 Carbon Dioxide Target

STRASBOURG, France, November 24, 2006 (ENS) - The European Parliament's Industry and Energy Committee wants the EU to be the most energy efficient economy in the world by 2020. In a report adopted unopposed on Thursday, the panel called for binding targets to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and increase renewable energy sources.

The 51 member committee, chaired by Giles Chichester of the UK, says that to tackle climate change, European leaders should agree within the next year on a binding 20 percent reduction target for emissions of carbon dioxide by 2020 and an indicative one for 2050.

Chichester

A Member of the European Parliament since 1994, Giles Chichester represents Britain's Conservative and Unionist Party. He is a member of the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats in Parliament. (Photo courtesy Office of the MEP)
The committee report asks the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission, the EU executive, to make energy efficiency a "cross-cutting priority for all EU policy areas."

The report, drawn up by Eluned Morgan of the UK, welcomes the Commission's green paper on a European strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy, but stresses that changing conditions in the broader global energy market must be taken into account.

The committee report calls for an EU strategy on transport energy use, aiming at the phasing out fossil fuels, a reduction in oil dependency, and the gradual introduction of clean energy generation.

The existing European Emissions Trading Scheme needs to be changed to include a move towards auctioning or benchmarking based on output and also to bring in further emitting sectors, including all types of freight transport, the committee advised.

"Climate change is the biggest threat facing us today," Morgan said. "The EU has begun to make inroads in tackling this threat, particularly through its Emissions Trading Scheme, but more must be done, and quickly. It's time we made the biggest polluters pay for their actions."

Under the current European Emissions Trading Scheme, carbon dioxide permits are issued to 9,400 large factories and power stations in 21 EU countries.

Those who pollute less than their allowance are able to sell their excess credits, while those who exceed their allowance must buy credits. It is designed to give firms a financial incentive to invest in clean technology and cut emissions.

Morgan

A Member of the European Parliament since 1994, Morgan Eluned represents Britain's Labour Party, She is a member of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament. (Photo courtesy Office of the MEP)
Morgan wants to see the scheme go further. She proposes that rather than being allocated free of charge, the credits are auctioned to the highest bidders. The funds raised would go into energy research and development.

She also is calling for an impact assessment into extending the Emissions Trading Scheme to other sectors of heavy energy use, such as aviation and freight transport.

Morgan is proposing the new rules come into effect in 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol commitment period ends, and run for 20 years. European member states are Parties to the protocol and bound by its emissions limits through 2012.

Consumers must be placed at the center of all future energy policies and "energy poverty" should feature more clearly in the Commission's proposals, the committee said.

Consumers should have easy access to price and choice information, to an easy method of switching energy providers and a right to be heard by the regulators in each member state.

To help diversify energy sources, the committee says the EU needs a stable long-term policy framework, with "binding sectoral targets for renewables to reach 25 percent in primary energy by 2020 and a route map to reach 50 percent by 2040."

Nuclear power is a matter of individual choice for each EU member state, the committee said, recognizing the role that nuclear energy plays in some countries as part of the energy mix and as a way of avoiding CO2 emissions.

The committee says a common stance with regard to third countries is needed to increase the EU's ability to negotiate with energy producing and consuming countries.

MEPs urged the Commission and the member states "to take very seriously the real danger of a deficit in gas supplies from Russia after 2010."

The committee members say they "insist" on the ratification of the Transit Protocol and the Energy Charter Treaty, which are instrumental in ensuring foreign investment in Russia’s energy infrastructure and to assure sufficient future gas supply to the European Union.