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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine