Today UK MEPs defied David Cameron by voting against the proposed move to a -30% reduction target for EU ETS. There are cries of heresy and betrayal, that these MEPs are throwing our future away and Europe will lose out to race to a ‘green economy'. But let's just take a step back and remember why this vote was even on the agenda. EUROFER's director general, Gordon Moffat stated in a press release recently that:
“After the Copenhagen failure, the EU would be foolish to again unilaterally increase its GHG objective. Before Copenhagen, the Union affirmatively stated that it would only move to -30% if binding measures would be taken by other countries, comparable to the EU's -20%. Clearly no other country has followed Europe. It cannot therefore credibly justify a move to -30%.”
It is very important to remember this point. It was never on the agenda because Europe didn't think we were not going far enough with our carbon reduction targets, but because it was meant to act as an incentive to entice other countries to set reduction targets.
When talking about this race to a green economy, I wonder if we have lost sight of the goal: We, in Europe, are the only ones with such a scheme. Our biggest competitors, China and the US, do not have carbon reduction targets. How can we lose if we are the only ones in the race?
If Europe continues to impose higher costs than other countries - unregulated countries – production will be pushed out of Europe and to our competitors. This will in no way reduce carbon emissions; it will merely move it to these more unregulated areas and at the same time Europe loses the jobs and investment that a tighter target will supposedly bring.
Martin Callanan MEP was quoted in the Guardian as stating: "Conservative MEPs have always been sceptical of the EU unilaterally increasing its target to 30% without a worldwide agreement. I am in favour of increasing the EU target to 30%, or even higher, in the context of a global agreement where our competitor countries take similar action. Increasing our own targets while the rest of the world does nothing will have virtually no measurable effect on global emissions, because it will force large EU emitters to relocate to other countries outside the EU where they will continue to emit at a much lower cost. We are also concerned that the higher carbon emission costs resulting from an increased target will feed through into energy price increases for domestic consumers"
It is also important to remember that this vote was not so narrowly lost as some would like to think, the vote was lost by more than a third. So perhaps those voting against it are not just blindly doing so, maybe they are also looking at this from a common sense perspective?