Davey calls for more climate change action from Europe
Europe must to do more to combat climate change, raising its sights ever higher, and driving towards 30% as its new 2020 carbon emissions reduction target says energy secretary Ed Davey.
Addressing the influential international think-tank organisation, Chatham House, he said the arguments for moving to a 30% cut were well-rehearsed and represented the most cost-effective way of reducing carbon.
"It will help us secure the investment in clean energy we need to stay competitive," he said. "It will help grow our low-carbon industries, ensuring Europe's competitiveness and will limit our exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices."
Europe needed to do more, he continued, to complete the single energy market, more on interconnection, more on a continental-scale supergrid, more on energy efficiency standards, more on renewable energy deployment and more on climate finance.
Achieving such ambitions would depend on embracing the economic case for climate action, having sound political leadership in Europe and a belief that multilateralism works in the battle for a 'safer future'.
While quoting new research showing climate change made the 2011 Texas heat wave 20 times more likely than 50 years ago and the UK's extreme flooding twice as likely, he also delivered a practical effort and rewards message on the business benefits of taking climate change action.
"Energy efficiency is unambiguously good for growth," he said. "If the EU can hit its 2020 energy target, it could save €34bn. UK businesses alone could save up to £4bn a year by using energy more efficiently."
Green business, he added, was the real engine of sustainable growth, being likely to account for over a third of the UK's economic growth in 2011/12.
"The UK's green economy grew by £5.4bn last year," he said. "That's 4.7% growth, even as the rest of the economy was struggling. Globally, the clean energy market is increasingly competitive and fizzing with opportunities. Not just for our companies, who are competing in a £3.3 trillion global market, growing at 3.7% per year, but for our economies, too."
These weren't the words of a 'hair-shirted hippy', he concluded, but of someone who understood that green business generated a UK trade surplus of £5bn last year and 'if we play it right' could halve our trade deficit before the next election.