On the same day that EWEA2011 opened in Brussels, environment ministers from seven European nations urged Member States to endorse a 30% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 instead of the current target of 20%.
Lykke Friis, Denmark’s Minister of Climate and Energy, and six other EU environment ministers meeting for the EU Environment Council released a letter Monday asking for tougher climate targets to ensure emissions are reduced by 80% by 2050.
“Now is the right time to discuss the most cost-effective route to achieving our 2050 goals, maximising growth, jobs and prosperity throughout Europe,” Friis and the six other ministers wrote. “We are not starting from scratch; the EU has already cut emissions by 17% from 1990 levels by 2009.”
The seven ministers noted that the European Commission’s recent Roadmap shows that the current 20% target is not a cost-effective route to its 2050 goal, and that tools and policies, especially in regard to energy efficiency, are already in place to cut emissions by 25%.
“The case to move to a 30% target by 2020 is now stronger as a result,” the letter noted.
“At a time when the price of oil is soaring, putting in place an ambitious plan for Europe’s low-carbon future has wider benefits than tackling climate change. It will increase the continent’s resilience against oil price spikes and reduce its dependence on imported energy. And it will help Europe compete with emerging economies in the fast-growing markets for green goods and services.”
The ministers added all Member States should enter into “this urgent debate on Europe’s future” to ensure Europe can lead the low-carbon race.
In addition to Friis, ministers from Germany, Spain, Britain, Portugal, Sweden and Greece signed the letter.
Friis told the opening session at EWEA2011 on Monday that continuing to depend on expensive oil for energy is a losing proposition.
“Let there be no doubt, the new energy reality is here,” Friis said. “We simply must end our oil addiction.”
Christian Kjaer, the CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), congratulated Friis on the letter during the opening session of EWEA 2011.
EWEA has long held the view that the EU emissions-reduction target should be increased to 30%.