In the midst of global economic crisis, European countries face critical choices to preserve their future prosperity and security. At the same time, China and the US are investing heavily into low carbon technologies especially in their transport and energy infrastructure. This is to reduce the risk of oil shocks to their economies, reap savings from energy imports and capture lucrative new markets for the products of tomorrow.
Geographically and geopolitically Europe is particularly vulnerable to energy prices and the impacts of climate change compared to its major competitors, so has a strong interest in accelerating action towards a global low carbon economy.
Europe’s economic choices and its climate choices can have common solutions: if designed well, the action required to deliver Europe’s long-term climate and energy security can be consistent with its shorter-term economic needs. Economic growth and stability can be delivered by stimulating much needed investment in low carbon European energy infrastructure. Putting the EU on track to meet its agreed 2050 climate goal would generate an additional €45 billion per annum of investment in European jobs and technologies by 2020. But this investment will not happen unless the EU emissions reductions target is increased from 20 percent to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and importantly, the overwhelming majority of these reductions are achieved inside the EU.
This gives a new significance to the debate around the move to the 30 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) target as it is the focal point for addressing how to de-risk and stimulate the European economy. How the 30 percent GHG target is delivered is as important as the target itself. If the right policies are in place then between 40-80 percent of this could be covered by no- and low-cost options such as energy efficiency measures. This helps save €60 billion-€180 billion per year to 2020. These savings far outweigh the cost of the €81 billion price of the 30 percent target.
E3G’s latest briefing paper “Building a sustainable and low carbon European recovery: How moving to a 30 percent emissions target is in the European interest” (available to download above) considers various arguments for a unilateral move to the 30 percent target.