Plenary debate on the Commission's "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050"
Strasbourg, 15 March 2012
Mr President, Honourable Members,
The 2050 low carbon roadmap communication provides a solid basis for discussing the further development of EU climate policies. It represents an incredibly strong signal for the whole process in this Parliament on this issue. I would like to thank in particular the rapporteurs: Chris Davies from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and Mario Pirillo from the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. It sends a very strong message about what this is all about, namely the environment and industry going hand in hand and seeing that this is not harming the potential in Europe and is actually something that can enhance our growth.
After the second failure of the Environment Council to adopt Council conclusions on the 2050 road map, it is even more important that the European Parliament gives its support to an ambitious EU climate policy in line with the global requirements, integrating the discussion on the short-term policy needs with the longer-term perspective.
Although one country blocked the final compromise in the Council, 26 Member States explicitly asked the Commission to move forward. We should not allow the most reluctant among us to dictate the pace of the rest. This is a very clear signal coming out of the European Parliament today: that you really want us to move forward and take the measures needed.
We welcome the report, as it endorses the central findings of the Commission’s 2050 roadmap – in particular the interim milestones for domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions, as set out in the roadmap. In the context of the difficult economic circumstances we are facing, the European Parliament’s report strikes the right balance and creates the right vision.
It is of paramount importance that Parliament recognises that a gradual, cost-effective transition to a low-carbon economy passes through the milestones for domestic greenhouse gas reductions of 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040 in order to achieve at least 80% by 2050 as compared to 1990.
This is strong guidance for our policy for decades to come. It is the starting point for further work related to the preparation of the 2030 policy framework, which is reasonably foreseeable and the focus of most current investors. Business needs clarity in the long term in order to be able to keep costs down. If there is one thing business always asks from us as politicians and regulators, it is long-term predictability. If you are a company, a sector or an investor, you are already looking beyond 2020 and planning investments which have a much more distant horizon.
The report confirms that, if the EU delivers on its current policies – including its commitment to achieve a 20% energy efficiency improvement by 2020 – this would add a further 5% greenhouse gas reduction through domestic action. While this does not require any change to our current targets for 2020, it shows a very practical and economical way to achieve higher reductions in line with the cost-effective pathway to 2050. The Energy Efficiency Directive will play a vital role here in providing the legal framework for reaching the 20% efficiency target. As you know, we are by no means on track to meet that.
The report also recognises that the ETS remains the principal instrument of the EU climate policy, though not the only one. The Commission is monitoring the situation closely. For the longer term, we take note of the various proposals put forward by the European Parliament for future changes to the ETS. We will assess how to take these into account in our further work.
With regard to the risk of carbon leakage, I understand that this is present throughout the report, but the EU has included specific measures in the climate and energy package, as the report also states. These are adequate. Border measures are not necessary and are counter-productive, at least at the moment. As I have said before, they are a tool in the toolbox, but they should stay there for as long as we can move forward through other means. As outlined in the roadmap, we will continue to observe the international situation in order to ensure that these measures remain adequate.
In the Commission we fully share the strong focus set on energy efficiency and renewables. This is key to combining emission reductions, improved energy security and sustainable growth and jobs. In this respect, the Commission urges the Council and Parliament to reach an agreement on the Energy Efficiency Directive rapidly. In addition, the Commission will soon come forward with a communication considering the EU’s strategy on renewable energy post 2020.
We strongly support Parliament’s call for enhanced action to reduce emissions in the power, industry, transport and agriculture sectors. Let me highlight just one example from the transport sector. The report affirms that the Commission should be proposing ways of ensuring that average CO2 emissions from new cars meet the target of not more than 95g/km by 2020. As requested in the existing legislation, the Commission will this year produce a proposal to establish the modalities for reaching this target.
Furthermore, the Commission intends to submit a proposal addressing emissions of HFCs and other fluorinated greenhouse gases in the second half of this year, which is also mentioned in the report. Finally, we also welcome the balanced considerations on competitiveness, research, innovation, growth and jobs in the context of moving to a low-carbon economy, confirming the main conclusions of the Commission assessments.
Last but not least, we thank you very much for supporting the Commission’s proposal for the next multiannual financial framework and the intention to a very substantial degree to mainstream climate action in it. The Commission has proposed to increase the proportion of climate-related expenditure to at least 20% of the whole budget, either directly on climate action or through other policies where climate action is also addressed and where the different initiatives will help us move in a greener direction and the direction of a low carbon economy. We count on your support on this matter in the upcoming budgetary discussions.
In conclusion, I would encourage the European Parliament to adopt the resolution as a further step for developing the appropriate policy framework for the transition to a competitive, energy-secure and resource-efficient low carbon economy. What you are about to adopt today will send a very strong and timely signal that Europe is ready to move on. Thank you very much for that.