Rhein on Energy and Climate

The EU Climate Package Advances

The EP Industry Committee has voted to two major components of the Commission proposals for implementing the EU climate targets for 2020, 20 percent C02 reduction, 20 percent increase in energy efficiency and a share of 20 percent of renewable energy in total energy consumption.

Last week the Committee has pleaded against a 10 percent share of biofuels in gasoline/diesel consumption by 2020, a vote widely hailed though diverging from the Commission proposals.

This week it has endorsed the proposal for auctioning the emission rights of major energy-intensive industrial companies. Only highly energy-intensive sectors might obtain derogation if there is a serious danger of companies “migrating” to countries with softer emission rules.

The Environment Committee and the EP Plenary are expected to follow this line. This will make it hard for member states` governments to take a more restrictive line, which some of them might be tempted to do in the interest of their industries.

As on earlier occasions, e.g. the most controversial Service Directive, the EP is showing political leadership in the EU legislative process. Step by step, it is about to assume predominance over the Council, which is good for European democracy and positive for parliamentary elections next spring.

It is therefore likely that the Commission package of January 27th 2008 will be salvaged against strong opposition from the power sector, the automobile and several energy-intensive sectors concerned. The French Presidency will do its utmost to get it approved at the December European Council meeting. France has put the issue of climate change, where France is leading, thanks to its bet on nuclear energy, at the top of the internal priorities for its Presidency.

The EU will therefore be ahead of all other OECD member countries with a comprehensive climate package, to be implemented in the coming 10 years and going far beyond the action taken so far under the Kyoto Protocol.
The EU will therefore be ideally positioned to start lobbying the major players on the global climate front, above all the USA.
Their active involvement is a prerequisite for a successful global climate policy. Without their full commitment EU efforts will remains of marginal importance for the global climate, considering that it accounts for only about 12 percent of global C02 emissions.

Delegations from the EP and member states should therefore visit the main capitals from Washington to Moscow, Beijing, New Delhi, Ottawa, Brasilia, and Tokyo at their earliest convenience and woe for a successful outcome of the final showdown at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in early December 2009.

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