New Year's message from Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action
"Two weeks ago, I came back satisfied from Cancún: we have been able to take an important step forward towards an effective and transparent future global climate regime. That is good news. However, it is clear that we still have a long and difficult journey ahead of us to finalise a legally binding international deal.
All countries will need to take ambitious action at home in order to prevent dangerous climate change. The EU is not sitting still. Last week, we took two important decisions. First, agreement was reached between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission on limiting pollution from vans – as we did earlier for passenger cars. We agreed that by 2017 vans may emit a maximum of 175 g CO2 per km; by 2020 this will fall much further to a maximum of 147g CO2 per km. With the 2020 target agreed, manufacturers can start developing innovative, low-carbon technologies, which will allow consumers to save fuel. This decision will contribute to our overall ambition to cut emissions from transport.
Second, there has been an important development for energy-intensive industries which face fierce competition from other parts of the world: Member States agreed so-called “benchmarks” for determining the free allocation of CO2 allowances to these industries for the period 2013-2020. As of then, the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) will be substantially reformed and today's system of free allocation of allowances will progressively be replaced by auctioning. The benchmarks are the outcome of hard technical work and intense consultations with stakeholders over almost two years.
With the Cancún conference, the emission targets for vans and the benchmarks for energy-intensive industries sucessfully completed, we are ready for a well-deserved end of year break. Let’s come back in 2011 full of energy to tackle climate change and with fresh ideas for the transition to a low-carbon economy. I wish you happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year! "