February saw the European Climate Action Network (CAN-E), of which Sandbag is a member, release its paper “Why Europe should strengthen its 2020 climate action”. The 20-page document, powerfully summarises the current NGO case for raising Europe’s 2020 targets for greenhouse gas reductions from the current 20% to 30% or more.

While the document shares much in common with the succinct 30% statements by the Corporate Leaders Group and the Joint Business Declaration, this paper summarises new analysis and embellishes its points with some very compelling graphs and tables. One of the most compelling graphs shows how far off course a 20% target takes Europe from its stated 2050 ambitions.

CAN E Trajectories 2

The paper argues for a 30% target on the grounds that:

  • The European Commission estimates that a 30% target will save some €45.5 billion in fossil fuel imports based on an (already surpassed) oil price of $88.4 per barrel

  • Europe is set to spend a smaller share of its GDP on reaching its current targets than most other large economies, and will still spend less than many if it moves to 30% unilaterally.

  • The shift to a 30% target will only cost 0.2% of current GDP while delivering GDP gains of 10% in 2050.

  • Latest circumstances mean a 30% target is only €11bn more than the €70bn price-tag originally anticipated for the 20% target

  • EU member states have collectively lost some €70 billion in expected ETS revenues, as projections for the 2020 carbon price halved after the recession dampened emission levels

  • European eco-industries directly employ 10 times as many people as the European steel sector and are growing rapidly

  • The European Commission anticipates that a 30% target would create 60,000 direct jobs in Energy Efficiency alone and 2 million direct and indirect jobs in Renewable Energy by 2020

  • The additional costs of achieving a 30% would be substantially offset by up to €30.5 billion in alleviated health costs associated with reduced air pollution

These add up to a powerful argument that being ambitious on climate change brings a host of other benefits. The range of challenges, from diminishing supplies of cheap oil to health impacts of pollution, all add to the larger imperative of climate change to point in a clear direction: Europe has to choose the low-carbon, high-tech, clean-energy future, and a more ambitious target is one of the most effective ways to get us there.

With the official release for the 2050 Roadmap scheduled for next Tuesday (8 March), we hope that policymakers listen to the calls of CAN and other NGOs, as well as progressive corporations and governments and put Europe on a trajectory which promotes our environment, our health and our prosperity.