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27 May 2010

Paris, Berlin signal pause in EU climate efforts

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France and Germany yesterday joined the growing ranks of European countries opposed to making further unilateral moves on climate change, as the European Commission today plans to make the case for raising the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction goal from -20% to -30% by 2020

Speaking at a joint press conference in Brussels on Tuesday (25 May), French industry minister Christian Estrosi and his German colleague Rainer Brüderle said other nations would have to make similar commitments before Europe makes the move.

"We have taken an ambitious commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020," Estrosi explained, adding that Paris and Berlin would back a move to -30% only if other nations made "comparable commitments".

"The conditional offer [to -30%] remains" but "we do not know the offers of other countries," he said, without citing China or the United States.

The common declaration by France and Germany signals a hardening of Europe’s policy on climate change, six months after the failure of UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

It also deals a blow to Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate action Commissioner, who is expected to recommend today (26 May) that Europe raises its greenhouse gas reduction target from -20% to -30% by 2020.

Estrosi said industries would move their factories and jobs abroad if Europe made the move unilaterally. "The climate will lose out, industries will lose out and employment policies will lose out," he warned.

Ultimately, he stressed that such a decision would rest on EU heads of states and governments, not on the European Commission.


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