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Summit Takes A Lead On Climate Change

  • March 11th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

summit-opens-3-07.jpgThe European Union is to implement a radical environment policy to confront climate change and is calling on other world governments to do the same.

The summit of Heads of Government and Heads of State of the 27 countries at Brussels (8-9.3.07) set binding targets to cut carbon dioxide pollution by 20% percent by 2020.

The leaders ordered new laws to enforce the standard, including a high quota for renewable fuels like wind or water – those to reach 20% of total energy use.

The chairperson, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel told a closing media conference it could save the world.

“We could avoid what could well be human calamity,” she said.

Some of the East European states dependent on coal, especially Poland, and smaller states, had objected to the costs of the change.

In the end they accepted a compromise where national targets will be negotiated, within the framework of 20% averaged across the whole EU.

Chancellor Merkel described this as a sound approach to handling the fact of many differences in energy systems, with some countries able to take up biofuels, water power or wind energy more easily, others committed more at this time to nuclear power, and some with large investments in coal.

The European leaders’ meeting – called the Spring meeting of the European Council- called on all major countries to join it in the attack on climate change.

All spokespersons specifically mentioned the United States, China, India and Russia, as candidate partners.

Their formal decision will extend Co2 cuts to 30%, if the other countries will sign on to do the same.

The President of the European Parliament, Prof. Hans-Gert Pottering, had urged the meeting to move on climnate change, pointing to opinion polls in Europe sohowing 90% of people concerned about its impact.

“It will be a race against time,” he said.

He said later:

“This is a convincing proposal for the world. I am confident that the President of the European Council, Chancellor Merkel will do her utmost with the support of others, the European Parliament as well, to convince ouR AMerican friends, and other partners in India or China, and those countries which we need to solve the problem…

“I really believe that European leadership on the question of climate change is necessary because if we as Europeans are not ready for leadership in the world, then I think nobody would be willing to do it.

“I wouldn’t underestimate the Americans. My information is that the Americans are more aware of the situation now; and don’t forget the terrible hurricanes that we have had in the United States; they have always had them but now more and more so. So experts tell me there is the beginning of a change in position, and once the Americans realise there is a problem they do everything to try to solve the problem. I do hope the process of realising the dramatic situation in the United States continues, and then they will do things together with us.”

The President of the executive European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, had asked the summit meeting for a mandate to draft laws that would enforce the 20% goal, as a strong legal base would be needed.

“It is the most ambitious program in the world,” he said.

“Leaders of Europe want binding targets not just indicative targets.

“We will come up with binding legislation.”

Along with government leaders he admitted the central institutions of the EU lacked direct competence for law-making in the environment and energy field, but stressed they had the support of the national governments to apply such powers as their authority for management of the single European market.

Environmental organisations showed overall relief, though commenting that the CO2 cut-backs ought to be bigger to be effective, and issuing reminders that awareness of climate change had been generated by their own representations.

Greenpeace Europe strongly welcomed the EU move, calling it the most important since the signing of the Kyoto agreement on global warming.

The organisation said it was relieved that a move by France to have nuclear energy included in calculations of non-carbon producing alternatives had not been accepted.


The European Council also pushed further with its “growth and jobs” program, a package of structural changes and microeconomic measures focused on building up a more competitive growth economy.

The leaders considered regulatory moves to keep down costs on credit cards and roaming services for mobile phones.

Caled the “Lisbon strategy” , the economic program includes simplification of industry regulation, application of European company laws to promote competition, and a drive for investment in research and innovation.

Reference: “Implementing the Renewed Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs; a Year of Delivery: Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council, 2007- Annex”; European Commission, Brussels, 2007

Picture: Announcing Europe’s move on climate protection, 9.3.07.