Time is running out for ministers to move the Poznan conference forward. The futures of millions of poor people - already feeling the devastating impacts of climate change - are in the hands of the negotiators. Photo: Piotr Fajfel/Oxfam
Leader must act on climate change now.

Europe deal will fail to tackle climate change – time to go back to the drawing board

“The mandatory earmarking of auction revenues for developing countries has been swept from the table.”
Elise Ford
Head of Oxfam's EU Advocacy Office, Brussels
Published: 12 December 2008

Europe has undermined the global fight against climate change by passing a deal today that has been badly compromised by special interests, says international agency Oxfam.

Europe must go back to the drawing board. The European Parliament must improve key parts of the package next week and the European Commission must propose a far more ambitious international mandate for Europe in its Green Paper next month.

"The EU Climate and Energy Package – originally a strong set of laws proposed by the Commission – promised so much from the world’s 'first movers.' But what member states agreed today delivers far too little. Millions of poor people have been left in danger because EU leaders bowed to business lobby pressure and faltered at an historic moment,” said Elise Ford, head of Oxfam’s Brussels office.

“International negotiators meeting now in Poland to map out a new global climate deal will look at this EU package and think ‘is this the extent of our aspiration?’ The answer is no, it is far below where the global deal must eventually be,” Ford said. “Europe’s package looks too much like business-as-usual tied up in a green ribbon.”

Europe has agreed a 20% binding cut in emissions and weakened the “trigger” to automatically increase that target to 30% if a global deal is done. However, Oxfam says that the package will allow Europe’s biggest polluters to off-set more than half of this targeted cut overseas, by trading in emission permits. “Europe is not even attempting sufficient carbon cuts domestically,” Ford said.

Europe’s strategy to tackle climate change depends on sending a carbon price signal that is high enough to encourage emissions cuts, incentivize green investment for European industries of the future, and help to raise revenue. To achieve this, Oxfam says that emissions permits must be auctioned, not given away free. “This package gives too many exemptions to too many industries in too many countries,” she said.

Developing countries were also awaiting Europe to honor its promise to give money in amounts large and predictable enough help them adapt to climate change and pursue low-carbon development.

“The mandatory earmarking of auction revenues for developing countries – which is proposed by Parliament – has been swept from the table,” Ford said. “European Treasuries made a calculated decision that poor countries should be dropped from the “auction revenue” equation – and did it without a backward glance.”

This current package must not be the one that Europe offers to the global deal-making meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009. “Member states, Parliament and the Commission must seize a final chance next year to reassemble the reputation of the European Union that was left in tatters today,” Ford said.