The European Parliament has adopted a report—Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change—by a vote of 450–66, with 143 abstentions. The adoption enables Parliament to present proposals for a future (i.e., post-Kyoto) climate change regime at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference.
The core of the strategy in the report, based on the overall objective that the average global temperature increase should not go beyond 2°C of pre-industrialization levels, is a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 with long-term targets of 60%–80% by 2050. The result is a call for aggressive mitigating action, especially in transportation.
The report stresses that the EU strategy on climate change mitigation should be based on a seven-pronged approach:
Building on key Kyoto elements, such as binding greenhouse gas emission targets, a global cap-and-trade system, and flexible mechanisms;
Undertaking strong emission reductions of 30% by 2020, using a combination of market incentives and regulation to stimulate investments in efficiency and/or carbon-free and low-carbon technologies;
Adopting a pro-active approach to engage other main actors, in particular the United States. (The report “deplores” the non-implementation by the current US administration of the commitments under the UNFCCC to return to 1990 emission levels and “regrets” the decision not to proceed with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.);
Developing a strategic partnership with countries such as China, South Africa, Brazil and India to assist them in developing sustainable energy strategies and secure their participation in mitigation efforts;
Vigorously promoting research and innovation for sustainable energy technologies and removing “perverse” incentives such as fossil fuel subsidies, as well as manifesting external costs, including those of climate change, in the price of energy production;
Using European and national legislation to stimulate greater energy efficiency and reduce the price of technology which reduces climate impact; and
Encouraging much greater direct involvement in mitigation efforts at the level of the European citizen, a necessary prerequisite being the provision of detailed information about the carbon content of products and services and a future option being a system of personal tradable quotas.
The report focuses special attention on the transportation sector, which contributes about 30% of the Community’s CO2 emissions, 85% of that being from highway transportation. Parliament is calling for more aggressive measures to reduce transport emissions, including mandatory limits for CO2 emissions from new vehicles on the order of 80-100 g/km.
That target level is dramatically lower than the current voluntary target of 140 g/km—which will apparently not be achieved.
Parliament is suggesting a variety of other mechanisms to reach its aggressive target, including emission trading between car manufacturers, EU-wide speed limits, traffic charges and tax incentives, together with a boost in rail and public transport in general.
The report encourages the further development and promotion of rail as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to road haulage. It calls for the establishment of a “Trans-European Fast Rail Freight Network” to resolve the fragmentation in the freight network and remove the remaining infrastructure bottlenecks and also calls for consideration of mandatory CO2 emission targets for trucks.
Minimum cross-European biofuel blending ratios are another suggestion, with an initial target for investigation of a 10% blend.
The UNCC Conference includes the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) and the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1).