Research released by the European Commission today (26 May) recognises that the costs of raising the EU's 2020 CO2 reduction target to 30% would be minimal, while significantly cutting the subsequent costs of achieving the 80% reductions targeted by 2050.
Raising the target would also increase Government revenues from auctioning of emissions permits or carbon taxes, reducing pressure on Governments to raise other taxes.
Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomes the research, but warns that to play a full and fair role in preventing dangerous climate change, the EU must further increase its ambition to a 40% reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and avoid reliance on carbon trading as the solution to the climate crisis.
A cut in emissions of 40% delivered domestically rather than through offsetting by 2020 is entirely achievable, according to a new report by the Stockholm Environment Institute.
Duncan McLaren, Friends of the Earth Scotland Chief Executive, said:
"The European Commission's research suggests 30% cuts by 2020 are easily affordable and could be good for taxpayers, by increasing revenue from carbon permits or taxes paid by businesses.
The main reason that delivering 30% is now seen as affordable is that as a result of the recession, emissions have fallen more than predicted, and companies have banked large amounts of free emissions credits. The EU could therefore cut back on future auctions of emissions permits, or impose new carbon taxes without imposing excessive costs on business."
"If these credits are allowed to flood the market going forward, the carbon price will remain low, and easy options to cut emissions will remain unimplemented. This is a major weakness of the emissions trading scheme. Not only should the EU raise its target to at least 30% by 2020, it should ensure that such problems cannot recur. Instead of relying on volatile and unfair carbon trading it should give greater consideration to how to deliver emissions cuts through regulation and taxation."
According to the the UK Committee on Climate Change, if the EU raises its 2020 goal to 30%, this would it entirely practical and affordable for the whole of the UK to deliver at the level of Scotland's ambition - 42% cuts by 2020.
Friends of the Earth Scotland believes the EU as a whole should now adopt a binding domestic target of 40% cuts by 2020, and set annual reduction targets backed by tough infringement proceedings.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland T: 0131 243 2719
Analysis of options to move beyond 20% greenhouse gas emission reductions and assessing the risk of carbon leakage. The report suggests that moving to a 30% target would cost only an additional 0.2% of GDP or 3bn euro. It also notes that auctioning 15% less permits (the amount needed to deliver the 30% reduction) could increase government revenues from auctioning by around one third because the value of permits would rise disproportionately. www.ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/future_action_com.htm
Roadmap 2050, a practical, independent and objective analysis of pathways to achieve a low-carbon economy in Europe. www.roadmap2050.eu
Friends of the Earth Scotland believes that an increased level of ambition is achievable, affordable, and necessary if Europe is to fulfil its historical responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Research commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe from Stockholm Environment Institute, has shown that the EU can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2020 this is the minimum scale and speed of reductions science says is needed from rich countries to avert a climate catastrophe. The research shows that it is possible to meet these targets without relying on offsetting carbon emissions, and without false solutions such as nuclear power and so-called 'clean coal'.
Friends of the Earth Scotland exists to help people in Scotland look after the planet for everyone¹s future. We think globally and act locally in Scotland, delivering solutions to climate change by enabling and empowering people to take both individual and collective action. We offer help to people with the big things in life helping to sustain a healthy society and environment. We believe that all of our children¹s futures will be better because of what we do. www.foe-scotland.org.uk