26 May 2010

Climate Policy Boundary Conditions

The Times reports that the European Union is set to propose increasing its unilateral emissions-reduction target to 30% by 2020:

The European Commission is determined to press ahead with the cuts despite the financial turmoil gripping the bloc, even though it would require Britain and other EU member states to impose far tougher financial penalties on their industries than are being considered by other large economies.

The plan, to cut emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020, would cost the EU an extra £33 billion a year by 2020, according to a draft of the Commission’s communication leaked to The Times.

What's that you just read?
"£33 billion a year by 2020"
That is a total of about 400 billion Euros over 10 years. [UPDATE: A reader writes in to suggest that the Times has its currency wrong, the 33 billion should be in Euros. If so, then the total for the decade is 330 billion Euros. Thanks MW.] It is not going to happen. EurActiv reports the realpolitik:
France and Germany yesterday joined the growing ranks of European countries opposed to making further unilateral moves on climate change, as the European Commission today plans to make the case for raising the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction goal from -20% to -30% by 2020. . .

The common declaration by France and Germany signals a hardening of Europe’s policy on climate change, six months after the failure of UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

It also deals a blow to Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate action Commissioner, who is expected to recommend today (26 May) that Europe raises its greenhouse gas reduction target from -20% to -30% by 2020.

For emissions reductions policies to succeed they simply cannot involve high costs (and yes, for the EU 400 billion Euros is a high cost). This is just a political reality, there is no point in complaining about it.