EU Targets Transport, Power For Next Climate Action
Author: Pete Harrison
BRUSSELS - Eradicating greenhouse gases from power stations and cars, trucks and aviation must be Europe's next policy move to tackle climate change, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday.
The statement gives the first glimpse of what the 27-country bloc might do next as it moves towards a greener economy.
The European Union last year agreed to cut emissions of the main global warming gas, carbon dioxide, to a fifth below 1990 levels by 2020 -- the world's most ambitious climate policy.
It now aims to go further.
"We need to come up with concrete policies to decarbonise our electricity supply and transport fuels and to transform the grid," Barroso told reporters.
"That's the concrete task of the next Commission, but it is not too early to be thinking about this," he said.
A new Commission is expected to take office later this year.
Barroso was speaking after talks with British climate economist Nicholas Stern and Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the United Nations climate panel, on the chances for a global climate deal at Copenhagen in December.
"We need to grasp this enormous opportunity to mainstream climate protection into all our policy areas," Barroso said.
Fast growing emissions from transport is one of Europe's biggest challenges in the fight against climate change, Jos Delbeke, number two in the European Commission's environment directorate, told a climate conference on Wednesday.
"The low hanging fruit has been done," he added. "We have to have a major meeting in Europe on transport."
Environmentalists view EU measures to curb emissions from new cars by 18 percent in the next six years as a major policy failure, because automakers successfully lobbied to have their most polluting models left until last.
And aviation, which currently generates just 3 percent of all European carbon dioxide emissions, is causing major concerns as it is growing so fast.
Dudley Curtis of environment group T&E said the Commission would have to do some "joined-up thinking" on the issue, as it was partly the liberalisation efforts of the last few decades that had created the explosion in transport and its emissions.
"We have to be able to do more with less transport," he added. "Transport efficiency should be the goal of the next Commission -- not just energy efficiency."
(Reporting by Pete Harrison; editing by Peter Blackburn)