Adopting a proposal for a one-fifth cut in emissions blamed for global warming, the European Commission is seeking to give the European Union a leading global role in the fight against climate change.
Brussels aims to jog other industrialised countries into adopting equally ambitious targets. The EU’s proposal would reduce the 1990 level of greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
Within five years, industries would begin paying for their quotas, in a revamp of the bloc’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Electricity producers will pay the full price per ton of CO2. Others, notably steel producers, refineries and air transport, will build up to the full price, by 2020.
Emissions covered by the trading scheme – two billion tons of carbon dioxide – would need to be cut by 21 percent from the 2005 level, the first year for which full data is available. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the European Parliament that the benefits would more than offset the estimated 60 billion euro cost.
He warned against inaction: “It’s true, there are some costs. But we have to compare the costs of this package with the cost of inaction. Since the costs of inaction are much much higher, we can say there is a relative gain in having now this package.”
Power bills for industry and households are projected to rise by as much as 15 percent, Brussels said, as clean energy technologies cost more than fossil fuels.
The draft laws also proposed by the Commission include providing 20 percent of the EU’s power from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass or geothermal by the end of the next decade from the current 8.5 percent. If the member states and European Parliament approve, 10 percent of road transport will have to run on biofuels.