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 March 16, 2012
MEPs urge EU to raise their game on carbon cutting

 The European Parliament has made a fresh call for member states to increase the bloc's carbon reduction target to 30 per cent by 2020, after Poland last week blocked a move for the EU to adopt the ambitious target.

The Parliament yesterday voted in favour of a resolution led by UK Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies to support the European Commission's Roadmap to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040, and 80 to 95 per cent by 2050.

The Roadmap was adopted by the Commission in March 2011, but Poland was the only state last week to vote against it, arguing the EU should wait for other countries to take similar measures first.

MEPs yesterday adopted the resolution with 398 votes in favour, 132 against and 104 abstentions, warning the current short-term goal for 20 per cent emissions cuts by 2020 was "not on a cost-efficient pathway" towards deeper cuts in the following decades, which will be required to prevent global temperatures from rising beyond 2 degrees celcius.

Commenting on the news, Davies said the EU should lead the way in creating a low carbon economy, warning that businesses could fail to meet the 2050 target without achieving more ambitious milestones along the way.

"The more we do now the easier it will be in the future," he said. "Either we take a lead in promoting a low carbon economy or we get left behind. This is an opportunity to promote investment and stimulate technological innovation. It will leave Europe stronger not weaker."

The news was welcomed by EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, who wrote on Twitter: "Applause to EP for getting support from so many to back low-carbon roadmap. EP asks EU to move on. Special thanks to MEPs Davies and Pirillo".

However, while Davies' resolution broadly supported the European Commission's Roadmap, it also called for additional policies to support increased investment in green technologies.

It specifically called for the temporary "setting aside" of a significant number of EU carbon allowances in order to boost the price of carbon in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

It also called for the EU to "implement in full" legislation that would include aviation emissions in the ETS, a move that has been opposed by some countries outside the EU - most vocally Russia.

MEPs also called for the EU to set binding renewable energy targets for 2030 to help decarbonise the power sector, in a move that was welcomed by green energy firms.

Gaynor Hartnell chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, urged the UK government to take note of the resolution, after recent reports that the UK is among a number of member states which believe they should be allowed to choose which technologies they can use to meet any post-2020 carbon target.

"Arguing for a technology-neutral target suggests that Government is only thinking about carbon," said Hartnell. "This blinkered approach ignores the risks of locking the UK into a future where we forever import our energy. We will be price takers, and more vulnerable as we're at the end of the pipeline.

"The costs of renewables are falling, and renewables have three trump cards: the fuel will never run out, there are no waste products to store, and they deliver energy independence."