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Climate action must not be postponed, ministers told

08 March 2012
by foeeurope -- last modified 08 March 2012

Proposals for how Europe might tackle climate change over the next 40 years are on the agenda of a meeting of Europe's environment ministers tomorrow (March 9) in Brussels.


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Environment group, Friends of the Earth Europe, is warning ministers not to postpone the setting of ambitious emissions reduction targets - they have already postponed the decision in the past - or Europe will be less likely to be able to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Environment Ministers will discuss the European Commission's 'Roadmap to a Low Carbon Economy in 2050', which proposes medium-term targets of 40% emission cuts by 2030 (based on 1990 levels) and 60% by 2040.

European governments are divided over the proposal, the major stumbling block being a proposal to increase the 2020 target to 25% domestic reductions. The United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Ireland are supportive of the increase. Poland is leading opposition to higher targets, threatening to veto any decision in a repeat of scenes last June. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on national governments to recognise the multiple benefits of higher climate targets and on the supportive member states to stand firm on the targets.

Esther Bollendorff, climate justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "The countries in favour of higher emissions reductions targets know they will bring long-term economic benefits. Reduced fuel spending alone would save 20 billion euros per year, create millions of jobs and reduce healthcare costs. Not only are politicians risking bringing on devastating climate change, they are also choosing not to save money in a time of economic crisis."

Billions of euros available under the EU's Cohesion policy instruments could cover the upfront investments needed to deliver the emissions cuts, especially in low income member states such as Poland. 

Esther Bollendorff continued: "Postponing a higher 2020 target will only make it more difficult to meet the EU's long term goal of 80-95% emission reductions by 2050. Science and historical responsibility tell us Europe must commit to at least 40% emissions reductions domestically by 2020 and make adequate finances available for developing countries."

Friends of the Earth Europe is the largest grass-roots environmental network in Europe, uniting 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups.

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