Business chiefs urge EU to increase ambition on emission goals

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 13 Oct 2010 17:20
EU urged to increase carbon goals

Some of Europe's largest companies have called on the European Union to increase its ambition to cut EU emissions to 30 per cent by 2020 from 1990 levels in the interests of strengthening Europe’s economic future, boosting jobs and providing greater certainty and predictability for investors.

It is the first time such a large and diverse group of EU businesses has called for Europe to increase its policy ambition to cut emissions to 30 per cent.

Companies supporting the joint business declaration “Increasing Europe’s Climate Ambition will be Good for the EU Economy and Jobs” include Acciona, Alstom, Asda, Atkins, Barilla, BNP Paribas, BSkyB, Capgemini, Centrica plc, Climate Change Capital, Crédit Agricole, DHV Group, Elopak, Eneco, F&C; Asset Management, GE Energy, Johnson Controls Inc, Kingfisher, Google, Marks and Spencer, Nike, Philips Lighting, SKAI Group of Companies, Sony Europe, Standard Life, Swiss Re, Tryg, Thames Water, and Vodafone.

The declaration reflects a growing coalition of businesses and climate ministers who believe Europe must review its climate policy to secure its long-term economic competiveness with China and the US in growing global market for low carbon goods and services. The current European target is for the EU to cut emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

The joint business declaration has been led by The Climate Group, The Cambridge Programme for
Sustainability Leadership, and WWF Climate Savers Programme and will be published and sent to the European Commission, Council, Parliament and Presidency ahead of the EU Environment Council tomorrow where Ministers will debate the costs, benefits and nature of increasing the EU’s climate reduction target.

The joint declaration states “There is no high-carbon low-cost future for Europe” and calls on the EU to consider increasing its greenhouse gas reduction target to drive low carbon investment, saying:

• Climate action will boost economic growth and create new jobs

• The EU needs the right policies to maintain its leadership and competitiveness in the global low carbon economy

• The EU must invest in its energy security through greater low carbon energy investments

• The EU needs to invest now for tomorrow’s technology and infrastructure to avoid high carbon ‘lock-in’ and the financial risk of needing to engineer a rapid shift away from such stranded assets

• The recession has made emissions cuts easier and cheaper but market incentives are required to spur action

• ‘Carbon leakage’ should be evaluated and concerns addressed based on real facts and data about

The move by European businesses supports recent calls from Ministers from four of Europe’s leading nations Denmark, France, Germany and the UK who believe Europe will gain jobs and competitiveness from the move and see significant economic benefits from strengthening its own climate policy even without a global deal.

Three European climate change ministers – the UK’s Chris Huhne, France’s Jean-Louis Borloo, Germany’s Dr Norbert Röttgen – recently stated that a policy for moving to 30 per cent would not act as a brake on the EU economy but would boost jobs and help Europe stay competitive as India, China, Japan and the US challenge its market share of 22 per cent of the global low carbon goods and services sector.

The EU should agree the legislative proposals as soon as possible to obtain the maximum benefit from the economy stimulus that it would bring. It will also help reinvigorate on-going international negotiations at the UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico later this year.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, EU Director, Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership says: “By moving to a higher target, the EU will have a direct positive impact on the carbon price and on low-carbon market creation through to 2020.

“This will deliver the economic signals and regulatory certainty that companies need if they are to continue investing billions of Euros in low carbon products, services, technologies and infrastructure.

“The businesses signing this declaration already understand that the financial risk of weak action on climate change is far greater than the cost of investing today.”

Mark Kenber, International Policy Director, The Climate Group says: “As a global clean tech race gets under way, a critical mass of European businesses and governments are beginning to see clear economic benefits of advancing European ambition to cut emissions. A clear mandate from EU industry means we could see Europe go into Cancun discussions with renewed confidence in its global leadership and economic future.”

Jason Anderson, Head of European Climate Change and Energy Policy, WWF said: "Greater ambition on climate policy will help drive systemic improvements in efficiency and capital investment that will benefit both society and forward thinking businesses like these. Far from being a threat to the economy, European action on climate could be the spark of a new wave of innovation."

Support for the Joint Business Declaration on Increasing EU Climate Ambition to 30 per cent, comes from several business chiefs, including Jose Manuel Entrecanales Domecq, Chairman, of Acciona, who said: "We need 21st century energies to build the 21st century economy. From our company's standpoint, to review the 20 per cent GHG reduction target, even in the absence of a strong international agreement, makes economic sense because it will strengthen European leadership.

“Reaching a target beyond 20% will unlock innovation and financing potential, and will increase European industry's readiness for new growth and development opportunities as the markets for low-carbon, high-efficiency goods and services expand.

“Socially it will contribute to the European energy supply security, and will contribute with new direct and indirect jobs through Europe; lastly, environmentally, increasing the emission reduction target will help Europe to reach the 450ppm goal we need to keep global warming within the 2ºC limit by 2050."

Keith Clarke, chief executive of Atkins, the UK's largest engineering design consultancy added: "We are already seeing a race to develop more carbon-conscious techniques in sectors such as building design and energy creation and this knowledge is highly sought after. If Europe is to taking a leading role in this field we must move quickly and a stronger target for carbon reduction, universally applied, will give us that momentum."

Sam Laidlaw, Chief Executive of Centrica plc said: “I am pleased to support the Joint Business Declaration and the move to a 30 per cent EU Greenhouse Gas reduction target. Centrica is already taking positive steps to decarbonise our power generation and make our customer’s homes more energy efficient.

"Our commitment is for secure, low carbon and affordable energy supplies and we look forward to the active involvement and support of Government, regulators and consumers in delivering this goal.”

Jeroen Overgoor, Director Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Eneco said: “A level playing field between fossil and renewable energy is in Eneco's opinion an essential condition for a healthy EU investment climate for renewable energy. Therefore the costs of climate change, health hazards and environmental risks have to be included in the market price of fossil energy. The current low price of CO2 illustrates that the ambitions of the EU in this field should be advanced
to accelerate the achievement of this necessary level playing field.”

Alain Grisay, CEO of F&C; Asset Management says: "Capital investment is vital to fund the transition to a low-carbon economy, and growing numbers of investors stand ready to play their part. But this capital will not flow at the scale and pace that is needed unless governments set clear, credible and stretching carbon emission targets.

“A 30 per cent GHG reduction target sends an unambiguous message that will mobilise capital and spur real growth in the low-carbon economy.”

Agostino Renna, VP & GM, South & Central Europe, Energy Solutions, Johnson Controls Inc. says: "There has never been a more compelling event than the phenomenon of climate change. With its formidable challenges will come unprecedented opportunities to drive innovation and economic growth in Europe.

“The time for action is now. Amplified, focused, ambitious and assertive policy and legislation aimed at stimulating demand for energy efficiency and low carbon technologies (especially in the buildings sector) in Europe, will bring clarity and certainty around the future of the new
environmental economy and unlock investment and broad-based solutioning of this truly global problem."

Ian Cheshire, Group CEO Kingfisher plc said: "Kingfisher fully supports the move to a 30 per cent target, which would be a very positive step towards achieving a global deal at COP16 in Cancun this December.

“A 30 per cent target will be good for the EU economy and it's good for the future sustainability of business. The experience of Kingfisher’s companies across Europe shows that there is a strong appetite among the public to reduce individual carbon impact.

“Governments must harness this by helping business to change consumer behaviour for the better and by providing the right incentives."

Hannah Jones, VP Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike says: "Nike believes that progressive EU Climate Strategy will help forge the pathway to environmental progress, economic growth and will provide a healthy stimulus for innovation.

“We would like to see the EU being ambitious in its climate strategy because business needs certainty and a level playing field to help spur green jobs and unlock innovation essential to creating technology and infrastructure solutions for a sustainable future."

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