Before the end of 2011, the EU should pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 (from 1990 levels), says a resolution voted by the Environment Committee on Tuesday. Limited scope for offsets should be allowed, but a 25% reduction should be achieved domestically, say MEPs. This would create millions of additional jobs in the EU and yield other economic benefits, they add.
The committee's verdict (44 in favour, 14 against, 1 abstention) paves the way for a plenary vote, scheduled for 23 June. Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL), who drafted the resolution, said: "The European Parliament's position has been shifting over the last year. There is now broad support for a 30% reduction target and a growing realisation that ambitious climate policies are in Europe's own economic interest."
25% domestic reductions
The Environment Committee wants the EU to set an unconditional 30% target as soon as possible, and in any event before the end of 2011. As with the existing 20% reduction commitment, there should be some scope to include "offsets" funded in other parts of the world, but the EU should undertake to achieve 25% greenhouse gas reductions on its own territory, it adds.
The resolution recognises that achieving these targets will depend greatly on the EU meeting its renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. National measures, such as investment in innovation and tax breaks, can play a major part. At EU level, the committee considers that an adjustment of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) may be needed in future.
These reductions are intended as a step towards the shared EU and UN goal of limiting average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists advise is a major tipping point for overwhelming risk of the worst effects of climate change.
Economic crisis, economic benefits
MEPs note that the EU's CO2 emission reductions from the 1990 baseline already topped 17% in 2009, helped by the economic crisis. Looking ahead, they say that raising the bar to a 30% reduction target will bring many economic benefits. The resolution cites a study which estimates that 6 million new jobs could be created. Higher targets will also pose challenges for some sectors, although MEPs note that most energy-intensive industries benefit from special measures under the ETS scheme.
In the Chair: Jo Leinen (S&D, DE)