EU must show global leadership with Energy Package

Europe set itself up in Bali as a world leader on tackling climate change but is in danger of falling at the first hurdle, international agency Oxfam warned today. The European Union (EU) has missed a crucial opportunity with its Energy Package to help the world’s poor – the very people who suffer most from climate change.

Biofuels could be part of the solution to tackle climate change and poverty alleviation, but not under the European Commission’s (EC) current plans. Its own internal report has shown that the EC has failed to think through its 10 percent target for transport fuels by 2020 and that the costs of its biofuels policy will outweigh the benefits.

The EC’s headlong rush into biofuels has already caused a big scramble by poor countries keen to cash in.

Robert Bailey, Oxfam International spokesperson says: “Oxfam is already seriously concerned that the EU’s biofuels strategy fails to protect the land, livelihoods and human rights of vulnerable people, creating a huge threat to sustainable development where there should have been an opportunity.

It is untenable for the EC to proceed with this legislation in the knowledge that it is unlikely to deliver on its primary policy objective of reducing emissions from transport.”

Because of this, Oxfam believes the EU should scrap its current plan for biofuels. When it goes back to the drawing board it must ensure that the use of biofuels will contribute to cost-effective CO2 emissions and development - not potentially make both worse.

The European Commission must also rethink its targets for emissions cuts by member states. The current calculations that focus on a 20 percent cut in emissions will mean Europe has to abandon its objective of keeping temperature increase below the EU-approved target of two degrees Celsius.

Antonio Hill, climate change spokesperson for Oxfam International, says: “The EU’s 30 percent challenge was key to pushing other governments around the world to do more in 2007. EU leadership now requires member states to actually plan on the science-based target they know is required.”

“The EU was negotiating for a 25-40 percent reduction for rich countries in Bali just last month. The unprecedented outcome in Bali shows the world is willing to aim higher and Europe must now do the same.”

Oxfam believes the EU must include figures for both 20 and 30 percent reductions by 2020 in its plans, at a minimum, and calls on member states to rise to the 30 percent challenge the Union put to other governments in 2007.

Oxfam believes that trading can be part of the solution to climate change, although it will be insufficient on its own. We believe carbon allowances must be auctioned, not gifted, and emissions levels tightly capped and managed.

"Auctioning emissions allowances is fast becoming the international standard for carbon markets. It ensures the carbon price accurately reflects scarcity in the market. Most importantly, it can help raise much-needed finance for emissions reductions and measures to avoid lost lives and livelihoods as a result of growing climate impacts - especially in poor countries," says Antonio Hill.

Info provided by Oxfam International

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