Coalition of 13 EU Ministers Urges Action on Climate Policies

Environment and energy ministers from 13 European Union countries joined forces to call on the bloc to agree on ambitious emission-reduction rules for the next decade and strengthen the EU’s carbon market.

The ministers, who believe tackling climate change will help foster economic growth in the 28-nation bloc, urged the EU at a conference in Brussels today to provide regulatory certainty to investors. The bloc also needs to ensure it puts an ambitious carbon-reduction offer on the table at a world leaders’ climate summit next autumn, they said.

“The stakes are high,” U.K. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey told the conference. “If we do not act, we could all lose out in the low-carbon race.”

The EU is considering options for its 2030 policy framework and an overhaul of its 53-billion-euro ($73 billion) carbon market after emission prices slumped to an all-time low in April amid a record glut of permits aggravated by a recession. The region is trying to reconcile its ambitions to lead the global fight against climate change with efforts to help the economy recover.

The European Commission, the EU executive in Brussels, will probably propose a policy paper on 2030 around the turn of the year so that EU leaders can analyze it at their summit in March 2014, the ministers said in a statement today. It also is considering bringing forward legislation to improve the EU emissions-trading system as a part of the package, they said.

Regulatory Uncertainty

While reducing carbon emissions is necessary to ensure development of new technologies and lessen the dependence of the EU on fossil fuels, some lobbies insist the bloc should continue the business-as-usual scenario, according to EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard. Investors will suffer a long period of regulatory uncertainty unless EU leaders provide a clear indication on the future climate and energy policies at the March summit, she said.

“There are strong forces that would like us not to use this opportunity,” Hedegaard told the conference. “We shall not delay and dilute; we shall deliver.”

The EU goal for 2020 is to cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent compared with 1990, increase the share of green energy to an average of 20 percent and to boost energy efficiency by one-fifth. Leaders of the bloc have voiced political support for cutting pollution by at least 80 percent in 2050.

In its analysis on the 2030 framework, the commission is considering three potential targets for reducing greenhouse gases: 35 percent, 40 percent and 45 percent domestically, Hedegaard said. Domestic reductions don’t include imported offset credits.

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