When it comes to getting a successful deal in Copenhagen later this year the most important thing we can all do is ask our elected representatives to press for more ambition from Europe. The UN talks are turning into a hydra-headed beast with many layers and complexities, but the issue at the centre of everything is will rich countries face up to their responsibilities and commit to real change?
Europe may like to give the impression that it is out in front on this issue but we’ve been having a look at the numbers and this is quite simply no longer the case. Some very clever accounting by our Eurocrats is hiding the fact that our current commitments are extremely weak. We think it’s high time Europe was challenged on this and required to take on targets much more appropriate to our current situation.
There are couple of problems. Firstly, we are in the process of amassing large volumes of ‘hot air’ thanks to the weak caps we placed on our industries as part of our emissions trading scheme. This ‘hot air’ can be banked for use against future targets – so when we sit down at the negotiating table we already have a head start over other countries. This can most easily be addressed by taking on a higher target.
Secondly, Europe came up with the 20%/30% conditional targets using our very own formula for assessing who should do what. Unsurprisingly, we came up with something that is biased in our favour. The system takes into account the emissions profile of countries between 1990 and 2005. This is fortunate for Europe since it ignores the bigger question of our total historic contribution to the total stock of emissions in the atmosphere. And, thanks to a few unrepeatable events in the 1990’s, including economic decline in the accession countries, this is the only period in which Europe can claim to have made any significant reductions – but by accident.
Our preference for a 1990 baseline also helps to make future targets sound ambitious – a ‘cut’ of 20%, when in reality only a 10% additional cut will be needed from current levels. This makes a 40% reduction target sound really hard but in reality it is only a 3% per year cut – precisely what scientist believe we need to be delivering.
Use numbers to clarify these issues we’ve produced a [short policy briefing](http://sandbag.org.uk/files/sandbag.org.uk/EUambition_ii_0.pdf “”) and sent it to Ed Miliband. On October 21st he will be attending a Council of Ministers meeting to discuss and agree Europe’s position going into Copenhagen. To ask Ed to push for more ambition in Europe drop him a line: [http://edspledge.com/](http://edspledge.com/ “”) or send him a tweet: @EdMilibandMP.