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Exchange of views of Commissioner Connie Hedegaard with the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

26/04/2010

At the EP Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

Brussels, 26 April 2010

Chair,

Honourable members,

Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me today for our first meeting under the so-called "structured dialogue". It is always inspiring to be here.

I very much welcome this opportunity to discuss with you the Commission's work programme on climate action and the international climate negotiations.

I would like to start by presenting the main elements of the Commission's 2010 work programme for which I am responsible.

The context for the work programme is the Commission's Europe 2020 strategy, which has won broad political support from this Parliament and has also had its main elements endorsed by the European Council.

Europe 2020, and in particular its flagship initiative on a 'Resource efficient Europe', puts the achievement of growth that is greener, more resource efficient and low-carbon at the heart of our vision for the EU's development over the coming decade.

The goal we are setting ourselves is to decouple economic growth from resource and energy use and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions - while enhancing our competitiveness, creating new jobs and strengthening Europe's energy security.

It is a goal we can reach together provided we have the political will. And it is a goal we must reach if Europe is to maintain its competitive advantage in the low-carbon revolution that is gathering pace worldwide.

Because, let's be clear: there is a major drive under way by all big economies to invest in the green economy of the future. The economic recovery packages undertaken by China, the US and South Korea are very illustrative. China has the largest green investment programme, at around 230 billion US dollars, the US itself will invest some 80 billion dollars in clean energy. [The EU and the bigger Member States, on the contrary, only invest 25 billion €.]

So we face stiff competition from our competitors, and that means we need to build on our current policies to drive our innovation and leadership forward in order to become the most climate friendly region in the world.

This will require a number of initiatives. Let me mention two important ones.

I and my services are preparing a Communication analysing the consequences of a 30% reduction by 2020.

The economic crisis has reduced emissions and the carbon price. Under these new circumstances, we need to ask ourselves how Europe can best promote more sustainable growth, create more jobs and reduce our dependence on imported energy.

What are the practical options for moving to a 30% reduction and what would their impacts be in terms of benefits and costs? How do the benefits and costs of the climate and energy package compare today to the original estimates? Can we have greater reduction at a lower cost than expected without increasing potential exposure to carbon leakage?

The Communication aims to launch a debate on these types of questions in the institutions and with stakeholders. My aim is to present this Communication for adoption by the College ahead of the 11 June Environment Council and the June European Council, but preparations are already well advanced. While you certainly understand that I cannot give you concrete figures today, the preliminary results of our analysis suggest that going to 30% would be technically feasible and economically affordable. In 2008, the cost of the 20% reduction of GHG in the context of the climate and energy package was € 70 billion. Our new analysis shows that the cost of the 30 % reduction of GHG would only be moderately higher than that. What was assessed in 2008 at € 70 billion is assessed today as around one third less costly. And when air quality benefits and the saved costs for less imported fuels are taken into account, the 30 % are even more affordable.

Over the coming weeks and months we will naturally be continuing to bring forward measures that are needed to implement the climate and energy package. These will include:

  • agreement on a regulation on auctioning of ETS allowances;
  • rules on free allocation concerning sectors deemed at risk of carbon leakage (benchmarks);
  • and publication of the EU-wide cap for 2013.

Looking further ahead, the second major initiative will be to outline a pathway for the EU's transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050.

This Communication, which we announced in the post-Copenhagen strategy I presented to the Parliament on 9 March, will analyse the milestones that will be needed on the pathway to 2050, including scenarios for the necessary ambition level in 2030.

Let me also mention that we will be preparing a major Communication for next year which will include a strategy and concrete actions to mainstream climate adaptation and mitigation into other EU policies and financial instruments. This will include in particular 'climate proofing' of the whole range of policies, from agriculture and rural development to health, water, industry and research.

These initiatives fit into a bigger picture of climate policy action across the Commission as a whole, consistent with the vision set out in Europe 2020. Action will be needed on transport, energy and taxation as well.

Decarbonisation of transport is absolutely crucial if we are to meet our long-term objectives to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions. If we continue business as usual, a study commissioned by DG CLIMA looking at the period until 2050 shows that emissions from the transport sector are likely to increase by some 30% in that period.

In line with the Flagship Initiative "Resource efficient Europe" of the Europe 2020 strategy , the central theme of the next Commission's White Paper on European Transport Policy, which will be presented by the end of 2010, will be to present proposals to make the transport sector modern, efficient and environmentally friendly.

The Communication on mainstreaming, which I have already mentioned, will not only look at transport, but will look at the issue of decarbonisation much more generally. However, given the growing climate impact of transport, this will be one of the key sectors we will look at and more concrete initiatives will then be developed from there, leading, as promised during my Hearing, to a coordinated series of measures later, the precise content of which will be identified at a later stage, depending on the outcome of the above-mentioned initiatives and analysis of the relevant policy gaps.

Discussions will also be starting this year on the next financial perspectives. I intend to do all I can to ensure that these take full account of climate change mitigation and adaptation in order to further the process of mainstreaming the climate challenge into all EU policies. 

Let me also briefly address the proposed Regulation on limiting CO2 emissions from vans which I know you have started discussing. 

The vans regulation, which is an important and necessary measure to tackle emissions from road transport, will make a notable contribution to helping member states meet their emission targets for 2020 under the Effort Sharing Decision: It alone will cover 5% of the reduction needed in the sectors not covered by the emissions trading system.

I know questions have been raised about the feasibility of the timetable and the level of the emission targets for 2014-16 and for 2020 and I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with several of you last week in Strasbourg. They are ambitious but it is our firm belief that they are also feasible for manufacturers. We would not have proposed them if we were not convinced of that - based on a detailed analysis.

The regulation will help manufacturers serving the European market to strengthen their long-term competitiveness and become front-runners in environmental technologies by going further in improving fuel efficiency than they might otherwise have done. It is an opportunity that I naturally hope European producers will be the first to grasp. We estimate that the greater efficiency will save the owner of each new van around 2000 Euros in fuel bills over its lifetime.

The two-year phase-in of the target for 2014-16, which – let us not forget – has been public knowledge since 2007, takes account of the industry's need to prepare for full compliance.

The target for 2020, meanwhile, gives manufacturers planning certainty for at least the next decade. It is underpinned by an external analysis which shows it is both achievable and cost-effective. However we have accommodated industry's concerns by providing for the target to be confirmed only after this analysis has been updated in 2013.

To sum up then, our proposal is both feasible and necessary and I would therefore like to urge this committee and Parliament as a whole to maintain its level of ambition as you consider it over the coming months.

Speaking already about vehicles, I would like to use this occasion to inform you that the Commission will adopt on Wednesday a Communication on a "European strategy on clean and energy efficient vehicles", presented by Commissioner TAJANI, but to which I am associated. I am very pleased that heavy duty vehicles now are part of this strategy, which announces, as something new, a proposal targeting the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from heavy duty vehicles.

Chair, I would finally like to say some words on the international negotiations.

At President Barroso's request I have been undertaking an extensive outreach programme, coordinated with the Spanish presidency of the Council: the US, Mexico, the Maldives and India, tomorrow China, later Ethiopia and the African Union and later in May Bangladesh.

Many share our view that Cancún needs to deliver specific decisions (integrating the Copenhagen Accord into the UN-negotiations, fast start funding, 2°C, REDD, adaptation). But why not THE legally binding instrument?

It goes without saying that the European Union would be ready to adopt a robust and legally binding global agreement in Cancún. There is, however, a pretty widely shared recognition that some other Parties may not be ready so soon after Copenhagen and that a global deal may therefore have to wait until the conference in South Africa at the end of 2011.

I urge everybody now to be practical and substance-oriented, so that substance has priority over process.

The Petersberg conference organised by Germany and Mexico next Sunday and Monday, to which some 43 countries are invited, should provide useful guidance for the UNFCCC June session and beyond. The Bonn meeting earlier this month showed clearly how important stronger political guidance is.

To show developing countries that we take their concerns seriously it is vital that Europe and the rest of the developed world start implementing our 'fast start' financing pledges. This is key to rebuilding trust between North and South. Last month EU finance ministers made clear that Europe is ready to deliver now. The EU has committed to give a first state of play report at the Bonn meeting in June so we are looking to member states to make good on these pledges rapidly. And let us be clear: Member States need to put new money on the table, and not just recycle already committed development aid, in order to maximise the political effect of the fast start financing.

Thank you all for your attention.

Dernière mise á jour: 26/04/2010 | Haut de la page