EU energy commissioner says it is “arrogant or stupid” to think cutting Europe’s carbon emissions will have an effect on global warning

 

Environment Editor

A A A

The EU’s Energy Commissioner has said people who think cutting Europe’s carbon emissions will make any difference to global warming are “arrogant or stupid”.

Speaking at an industry conference in Brussels a week after the European Commission proposed to cut its carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, Gunther Oettinger said he was “sceptical” about whether the target was achieveable.

While the EU looks set to comfortably meet its existing target - to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 - increasing that figure to 40 per cent during the 2020s will be far more difficult, he warned.

“It’s an ambitious compromise and I am a little bit sceptical. I have to be constructive as I am a member of the team but I’m sceptical,” he said in comments reported by EurActiv, the EU information website.

Mr Oettinger argued that the EU was only on course to meet its existing target because the economic downturn had curbed industrial output and the closure of polluting soviet-era plants in Eastern Europe.

“These were low-hanging fruits but there are no more now, so every percentage going down gets more difficult and cost-intensive,” he said, adding that the EU is responsible for just 10.6 per cent of global emissions today, a sum that would fall to 4.5 per cent in 2030 if the target was met.

“To think that with 4.5 per cent of global emissions you can save the world is not realistic. It is arrogant or stupid. We need a global commitment,” he said.

Experts agree with Mr Oettinger that even a significant reduction in emissions in Europe – and much less the UK – will not in itself make much difference to global warming. However, Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change secretary and others hailed Europe’s 40 per cent target as a crucial step towards reaching a global agreement because it made developing countries more likely to follow its lead.

However, some campaigners were disappointed that Europe did not propose a higher target than 40 per cent, with Mr Davey suggesting 50 per cent would send a better signal. Others, such as Professor Kevin Anderson of Manchester University, have gone even further, calling for an 80 per cent reduction by 2030 if we are to have a chance of limiting global warming to 2C – the level after which the consequences become increasingly dire.

Governments around the world have pledged to agree legally-binding targets in 2015 in a bid to limit global warming to 2C.

The EC also agreed another target last week, to generate 27 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. However, senior officials admitted that, while the target was billed as “legally binding”, it was unenforceable because it was binding on the whole bloc, rather than individual countries, meaning there was nobody to punish for failing to comply.

The measures proposed by the EC last week will now be debated by member state governments, before they can be fully accepted. The council, made up of the heads of state or government of the EU member states, will discuss the proposal in March.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy