Climate Leadership Continues in the European Union

The European Union might be going through a lot of financial turmoil at the moment, however they are still leading the way when it comes to environmental policy. Their carbon targets have consistently been higher than any other country in the world and they have also actually met and exceeded them.

At the Durban Climate Summit last year, the EU environment ministers were noted for their progressive and constructive role they played in coming up with a new international agreement.

The EU strategy has always been to lead with vision and to generate economic and environmental benefits. Since the EU has set binding emissions and renewable energy targets, many countries have followed suit. The carbon pricing cap-and-trade scheme was introduced in the EU and now New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea and most importantly, China have followed suit.

More recently, the EU set a cap on carbon emissions for all airlines. The decision to include airlines in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) has been met with vehement opposition from China, Russia, and the US. In the grand scheme of things, the fees associated with the scheme are quite modest: only increaseincrease of around €4 to the price of a long haul ticket. If opposing countries were to impose levies or ground European flights, it would not only affect the European economy but it would damage their own economies as well.

According to James Murray of Business Green: This move has made not only other countries but also, “the airlines themselves to agree that what is required to tackle global aviation emissions is an international carbon pricing mechanism. The only difference is that non-EU countries and the airlines want to see the EU scheme suspended while this new mechanism is negotiated, something the EU will not concede on the grounds that it is the current emissions charges that are forcing everyone to the table. It has always said that it will drop aviation from the emissions trading scheme as soon as a comparable international mechanism for tackling emissions from the sector is in place.”

The EU is also ready to restart international negotiations to tackle the shipping sector‘s emissions by pricing emissions in EU waters. This will force other countries to comply or face charges unless they come back with a global solution. This is sure to create another round of opposition between trading blocs however, the EU seems oblivious to the ruckus.

Although the EU is in deep financial problems and is clawing its way out of a quagmire, but it is not about to sacrifice the ETS and continues to set ambitious targets across the board. By enforcing such norms within the bloc, they are forcing the rest of the world to comply and thereby raising the bar for policy making.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also

2 responses

  1. You got it all wrong… it’s not altruism, or concern for the environment… it is about the money. Europe sells emissions credits. It’s basically a tax. They get to do whatever they want with the money, support more social welfare programs and keep the masses happy. No wonder they are in such a mess. More taxes on oil and gas results in higher prices and a less competitive business environment.

    By the way, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is a miniscule portion of our air (.039 percent). Man’s contribution to the this is perhaps 5%. Reducing our contribution will result in an immeasurable change in climate. Further, CO2 levels were 5 times higher in the Jurassic period when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Seems to me that the environment supported some pretty healthy creatures.

    So if Europe is leading the way, heaven help us we follow.

  2. Instead we are dying of the terrible increased air pollution from all new bioenergy in Sweden!!We used to have the cleanest of air, because all our homes and buildings used to be heated with electricity from our nuclear power plants, with no air pollutions and no emissions of green gas houses. Then our lives turned to a living hell. Sweden has a lot of forests, and Sweden is the biggest producer of pellets. Now we have became terribly ill because our homes and our socities is a smoky hell of air pollution from wood smoke and pellets burning emissions everywhere because politicians give people tax money to change from heating our homes with electricity to heat their homes with wood and pellets! They cut down trees and green areas in the communities and burn in new power plants for bioenergy. They change buses fuel to RME wich emitts more NO2, and we cough and cough and have breast pain. They give premiums for ethanol cars which emitts more dangerous pollutions. They burn trash in new power plants. The propaganda is total in media, community clerks, politicians and even doctors and environment associations. They tell the people that this is “green environmental friendly”, they teach our children propaganda, that this is good for the climate and that this is “environmental friendly” and have at the same time raised the prices for electricity so that everyone saves a lot of money by heating their homes and buildings with wood and pellets – at the same time as 90  scientists says you must count all the co from bioenergy!  We now are dying of air pollution, it is a hell, please help us and tell the people and the world the truth!

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