Saturday, October 25, 2014

Too Little, Too Late

European governments are claiming to have agreed ambitious action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, boost renewables and reduce energy use by 2030. But the targets set by the EU's 28 heads of state are far below what is necessary and what could be done by Europe to combat climate change, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

The non-binding pledges announced by members of the European Commission and European Council making commitments for emission reductions,  energy conservation, and the increase of renewable power sources simply are not strong enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the rate demanded by the science of climate change. Negotiators agreed to a formula that would include a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases and a 27 percent increase in both energy efficiency and renewable energy creation, all by the year 2030. Friends of the Earth Europe believes three binding targets is the only way to ensure Europe effectively fulfills its responsibilities to tackle climate change. Emissions must be reduced by at least 60% by 2030 to deliver the EU's fair share of action and be in line with the latest science, and there must be binding targets to reduce energy use by 50% and increase the share of energy produced by renewables to 45%. Oxfam called for targets of 55 percent in emissions cuts, 40 percent for energy savings and 45 percent for renewables. Environment group Greenpeace said the EU had "pulled the handbrake on clean energy. These targets are too low, slowing down efforts to boost renewable energy and keeping Europe hooked on polluting and expensive fuel."

European Commission president, Portugal's Jose Manuel Barroso, said, "This package is very good news for our fight against climate change.” That opinion was not shared by experts at Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam International.

"To describe 40 percent emissions cuts as adequate or ambitious, as EU leaders are doing, is dangerously irresponsible," said Brook Riley, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe.  "40 percent is off the radar of climate science. This deal does nothing to end Europe's dependency on fossil fuels or to speed up our transition to a clean energy future. It's a deal that puts dirty industry interests ahead of citizens and the planet."

Molly Walsh, also of Friends of the Earth Europe explained"The renewable energy target represents barely more than business-as-usual and will send a dangerous signal to national governments that EU renewables policy is being abandoned. The EU can achieve a much higher share for renewables by involving citizens in producing and controlling their own energy but this potential is being blocked by dirty energy corporations."

Oxfam International's Natalia Alonso said the EU details of the agreement fall "far too short of what the EU needs to do to pull its weight in the fight against climate change." She added, "Insufficient action like this from the world's richest countries places yet more burden on the poorest people most affected by climate change, but least responsible for causing this crisis."

Mahi Sideridou, managing director of Greenpeace Europe, highlighted the idea how the vague and non-binding commitments don't nearly match the extreme urgency of the crisis. "The global fight against climate change needs radical shock treatment, but what the EU is offering is at best a whiff of smelling salts," declared Sideridou. "People across Europe want cleaner energy, but EU leaders are knocking the wind out of Europe’s booming renewables sector. Europe can and should do more to stop the most devastating impacts of climate change.”

“It’s scandalous,” Julia Michalak, a spokeswoman for Climate Action Network Europe, “A continuation of free emission permits for Poland’s coal-reliant energy system would be a grave mistake. Leaders who came to Brussels to agree new historic climate goals, are actually discussing whether to hand out money to Europe’s dirtiest power plants.”

Profit is in fact the biggest stumbling block  and the World Socialist Movement wastes no time in exposing the agreement as the farce it is. The main source of CO2 emissions is the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) to power industry and transport and to provide heating and lighting. The trouble is that different states have access to fossil fuels more, or less, than others and each wants ‘the cheapest energy possible.’ So, any international scheme to reduce CO2 emissions that involved, for instance, cutting back on burning coal would disproportionally effect states for which this was the cheapest source of energy. It would increase the cost of production across their whole economy and make its products less competitive. The government of a state in this position will therefore oppose or seek to delay or water down any such scheme.

Global warming is a world problem requiring a world solution. This is not going to happen under capitalism. Something may well be attempted, but it will be too little, too late. The only framework within which the problem can be solved is where the Earth’s resources have become the common heritage of all. Then there will be no capitalist vested interests standing in the way nor any market forces working against a solution. A choice has to be made. It is no longer a matter of ‘socialism or capitalism’ or even ‘socialism or barbarism’. The choice now is between world socialism and global catastrophe.

Mostly taken from here

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