At the top of the agenda is the European Commission’s recent paper on the moving beyond a 20% EU emissions reduction target, as well as a discussion on the state of play of the international climate negotiations.

The paper, published at the end of May, looks at the practicalities and likely impacts of moving to a 30% target.

Earlier in the year the UN’s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, criticised the EU for setting its sights too low and warned that this was affecting global negotiations as the developing countries perceived Europe as a continent making demands for tough action while taking none itself.

The EC communication puts forward a number of options for using regulation and legislation to drive down emissions towards a 30% target.

These include cutting the number of allowances auctioned under the EU ETS therefore increasing scarcity and pushing up the price of carbon, regulation on energy efficiency, various fiscal instruments, directing EU cohesion policy funding towards green investments and improving the environmental integrity of the international carbon credits recognised in the EU ETS.

It also says that regardless of the Ministers’ decision on 30%, it would be beneficial to use some unallocated free EU ETS industry allowances to accelerate innovation in low-carbon technologies, in a similar way to the existing demonstration programme for innovative renewable energy and carbon capture and storage technologies funded with 300 million allowances.

Today’s meeting will be the first of its kind since the UK elected a new government and new Climate Secretary Chris Huhne will be attending.

“I’ll be using my first meeting of EU environment ministers to make clear the new UK Government’s support for ambitious European action on climate change, including a 30% cut in EU emissions,” he said.

“The Commission’s recent analysis provides a welcome starting point as we discuss how to implement a higher target.

“We believe a move to 30% is achievable, right for the climate and right for our economies as Europe focuses on a sustainable economic recovery. We can put Europe ahead of the game by taking new low carbon economic opportunities.

“Europe must take a lead in securing an international climate agreement though we can’t just click our fingers and hope the rest of the world will follow. We’ve got to make real emission cuts at home, and work constructively with all other nations in achieving that ambitious deal.”

Sam Bond

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