European Parliament resolution on Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change

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Resolution on "Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change"  (2005) 
European Parliament
2005/2049(INI)

The European Parliament ,

– having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change (COM(2005)0035),

– having regard to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to the application procedures for its implementation adopted at the Conferences of the Parties in Bonn (July 2001), Marrakech (November 2001), New Delhi (October and November 2002), Milan (December 2003) and Buenos Aires (December 2004),

– having regard to its previous resolutions relating to climate change, and in particular those of 13 January 2005 on the outcome of the Buenos Aires Conference on Climate Change(1) , and of 12 May 2005 on the Seminar of Governmental Experts on Climate Change(2) ,

– having regard to the statements conveyed to the G8 Summit in Gleneagles by 24 international business leaders representing the World Economic Forum, for example on the need to adopt long-term climate stabilisation targets,

– having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A6-0312/2005),

A. whereas climate change is one of the major challenges of the 21st century, having significant negative global environmental, economic and social repercussions with potentially catastrophic consequences, and whereas climate change differs from the other environmental problems facing the world,

B. whereas current indications of climate change include e.g. the melting of polar ice and permafrost, and in all probability the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions; whereas economic losses related to weather-related natural disasters in the last decade have increased by a factor of six over the 1960s' level,

C. whereas industrialised countries have a major responsibility for the accumulation of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere, both current and historical; whereas developing countries are likely to be the hardest hit by a more unstable climate and whereas industrialised countries must assume primary responsibility to assist low-income countries to adapt to climate change and to assist them technologically and financially as they adapt,

D. whereas the Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 following the ratification of 152 countries and regional economic integration organisations, representing 61.6% of 1990 Annex I GHG emissions and almost 90% of the world's population,

E. whereas full implementation, by all Parties, of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol is fundamental in tackling climate change, even though the measures will not be truly effective until a global solution is found which includes the large economic blocs responsible for the bulk of polluting emissions,

F. whereas the Kyoto Protocol establishes that negotiations for emission reduction commitments for the period after 2012 are to start in 2005; whereas consequently the eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP-11) and the first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP/ MOP 1) in Montreal should give the highest priority to this task,

G. whereas further targets need to be set soon in order to provide investment certainty for low-carbon energy sources, low greenhouse-gas emitting technologies and renewable energy, and to avoid investing in incompatible energy infrastructure,

H. whereas the main objective of the UNFCCC - to avoid dangerous climate change – according to recent scientific reports, may require a stabilisation of GHG concentration below 500 ppm CO2 equivalent - slightly above the present level - and thus necessitating major cuts in emissions in the near future,

I. whereas investing in energy efficiency is the most promising way to cut carbon emissions and whereas the potential for cost-effective energy savings in the EU is substantial,

J. whereas climate impact can be reduced considerably by means of better community planning,

K. whereas, before the existing arrangements for emissions trading are extended to other fields (for example aviation), an analysis must show that such an extension will help to combat climate change and that rich countries/areas will not be privileged at the expense of countries and businesses undergoing development,

L. whereas greatly enhanced participation, at citizen level, in the overall efforts to curb emissions and develop more sustainable lifestyles is very much called for,

M. whereas GHG emissions continue to increase in many Member States, showing that swift action is needed for the EU to be able to meet its Kyoto obligations,

N. whereas the cost of the measures to reduce GHG emissions will be offset by the benefits which will flow from restricting the increase in the Earth's temperature to a maximum of 2°C by comparison with levels during the pre-industrial era, since damage and losses which climate change might otherwise have caused throughout the world will be prevented,

O. whereas moving beyond the fossil fuel-based economy represents a historic business opportunity; whereas the business opportunity is substantial also for developing countries that are rich in renewable energy resources but currently lack the technology to exploit them,

1. Stresses that the EU strategy on climate change mitigation should be based on a seven-pronged approach:

- building on key Kyoto elements - 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,

- 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 internalising external costs, including those of climate change, into 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,

- 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;

2. Calls on the EU to ensure that the COP11 and COP/MOP1 meeting in Montreal decide on a timetable for negotiating future climate commitments with a time limit of achieving agreement by the end of 2008;

3. Calls on the EU to present, at the COP-11 and COP/MOP1, proposals for a future climate regime, based on the overall objective to limit the average global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrialisation levels;

4. Believes that a future regime should be based on common but differentiated responsibilities aiming at contraction and convergence, as well as on continued and progressively greater emission reductions and the involvement of more countries in the reduction effort; emphasises that any targets for emission cuts should be based on recent science and aim to not exceed a global average temperature increase of 2°C with reasonable certainty; further stresses that cost-effectiveness should be a characteristic of all measures considered and that, therefore, a long-term goal should be to develop a global carbon market, based on cap and trade; notes further that calculating cost-effectiveness must include the costs of inaction and the expected economic benefits from early action and innovation as well as from technological learning, which will drive down mitigation costs;

5. Welcomes the conclusions by the Brussels European Council of 23 March 2005, in particular that emission reductions for developed countries for 2020 in the order of 15-30% should be striven for; insists, however, that emission reduction targets for the long-term are also needed and suggests a target of 60-80% for 2050;

6. Deplores the non-implementation by the current US administration of the commitments under the UNFCCC to return to 1990 emission levels and avoid dangerous climate change, and regrets its decision not to proceed with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol; calls on the EU to ensure that the multilateral process is not paralysed by individual countries;

7. Recalls that the potential for energy savings is as high as 40% in the EU, but that to reach this goal binding targets must be set;

8. Notes that with a systemic approach it would be possible for renewable energies to cover 25% of EU energy consumption by 2020;

9. Underlines that effective climate change mitigation will require a major transformation of the energy and transportation systems and of the thermal design of buildings and that this transformation ought to become a driving force within the Lisbon Strategy, to boost growth and competitiveness; calls on the EU to develop a strategy to make Europe the most energy efficient economy in the world, by setting targets for annual reductions in energy intensity in the order of 2,5-3%;

10. In this connection calls on Member States to implement permanent monitoring systems for the assessment of the quantities of both materials and energy used in each economic sector in order to support adequate reduction policies;

11. Recognises that delayed action will increase the risk of adverse environmental effects and greater costs; further maintains that reducing global emissions must not lead to other threats;

12. Considers that combating climate change produces benefits both for society and the environment and contributes towards the achievement of the Lisbon objectives and the UN Millennium Development Goals; believes that investment in and the development of renewable energies gives rise to fresh possibilities for agriculture and forestry, more jobs, better health, increased regional growth, better exploitation of local and regional resources and of existing advanced technology, and less poverty;

13. Demands that the EU put more effort into the development of promising technological solutions in co-operation with the other global players;

14. Emphasises that many of the technologies needed to reduce GHG emissions already exist; notes, however, that their market entry is hampered by numerous barriers, not least perverse incentives such as subsidies for fossil fuels; therefore, calls on the Commission to propose legislation to abolish all such subsidies and instead to put in place a positive incentive structure for the enhanced use of energy-efficient, low-carbon and carbon-free technologies, and calls for the pro-active use of public procurement within the EU to help bring down the costs for such technologies; moreover, asks, in addition to focusing the Seventh Framework Programme on research in areas relating to climate change mitigation, for a Crash Programme - similar to the US Apollo Programme in the 1960s - to promote research and innovation in support of sustainable energy and land-use management;

15. Invites the Commission, in the light of the fact that much, if not most, of the EU's energy infrastructure is due for replacement over the next decades, to bring forward proposals to ensure that all investments in energy infrastructure within the EU apply the best available technologies in terms of low- to zero-fossil fuel emissions;

16. Notes that investments in efficiency measures and renewable technologies are the main alternatives for climate change mitigation; points out at the same time that the development of carbon capture and storage techniques is important - not least in regions with ample supplies of coal;

17. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to make clear and concrete inputs to an eventual reform of the CDM and its institutions, with the aim of enhancing its implementation and promoting broader involvement of private sector actors and thus creating the momentum necessary to extend beyond 2012;

18. Points to the need to foster new technologies for space-based systems to analyse natural disasters from space and thereby foresee and mitigate their devastating consequences;

19. Takes the view that the complexity of research and technological development required by climate change and disaster prevention, as well as their cross-border dimension, make it necessary to seek European formulae which transcend the principle of regional and national subsidiarity;

20. Recognises that changes in approach and physical adaptations will be needed to enable society to prepare for the consequences of climate change;

21. Calls on the Member States that have not yet done so to contribute resources to the supplementary fund to ensure that the CDM Executive Board can fulfil its mandate to create a well functioning and effective mechanism;

22. Underlines that developments within the transport sector are critical as it contributes to roughly 30% of the Community's CO2 equivalent emission, in which approximately 85% is the share of road transport; underlines that rail transport is much more energy efficient than road transport; regrets the fact that the automobile industry is unlikely to meet the target of 140 gm/km within the time-limit laid down under the current voluntary agreement; therefore calls for a policy of strong measures to reduce emissions from transport, including mandatory limits for CO2 emissions from new vehicles in the order of 80-100 gm/km for new vehicles in the medium term to be achieved through emission trading between car manufacturers, and other measures such as EU-wide speed limits, traffic charges and tax incentives, together with a boost in rail and public transport in general; further urges the Commission to devise innovative ways of making apparent the CO2 emissions caused by transport and to put forward proposals designed to stabilise or reduce traffic volumes in the EU between now and 2010;

23. Notes with concern the increase in freight transport, and calls on the Commission to draw up an estimate of the CO2 emissions caused by freight transport and to make proposals to transfer a large proportion of road haulage traffic to more environmentally-friendly modes of transport; calls on the Commission, as part of its review of the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP), to bring forward proposals to establish a "Trans-European Fast Rail Freight Network" to resolve the fragmentation in the freight network and remove the remaining infrastructure bottlenecks; calls also for consideration to be given to mandatory CO2 emission targets for trucks; calls on the Commission to explore the benefits for climate mitigation of permitting all Member States to use Swedish/Finnish-length trucks and to report the findings as soon as possible;

24. Reiterates its demand that emissions from international flights and shipping be incorporated in the emission reduction targets from 2012;

25. Supports the introduction of ecotaxes at Community level; emphasises that, like other market instruments, they are essential to an effective pollution reduction policy; calls on the Commission to put forward proposals and on the Member States to adopt the first European ecotax by 2009 at the latest;

26. Supports the Commission's proposal for a thematic strategy on the urban environment, the aim of which is to improve the quality of urban areas, in particular as regards air quality; in connection with climate change, takes the view that priority should be given to two policy areas: the development of public transport services which use clean or less polluting technologies, and the promotion of sustainable, high environmental-quality (HEQ) construction methods;

27. Considers that the EU and its Member States must review and revise their community planning instruments in order to reduce climate impact, particularly with regard to the planning of and new investment in transport systems and new residential and industrial areas;

28. In order to demonstrate clear EU leadership ahead of the 2012 negotiations, calls on the Commission to bring forward specific legislative proposals to extend the scope of the Buildings Directive and to update the Biofuels Directive to include the latest technology bio-flexifuels (such as MTHF, Ethyl Levulinate, etc.), to introduce mandatory EU-wide common standards for these new fuels, to create incentives for biofuel-run captive fleets, and introduce minimum blending ratios, examining the environmental effectiveness of requiring 10% bio fuel blends in transport fuels, as part of its review of the ECCP;

29. Calls on the European Union authorities to ensure that the Structural Funds are geared as a matter of priority towards sustainable development;

30. Notes that aviation is responsible for between 4% and 9% of all GHG emissions worldwide and that emissions from aviation are increasing at an annual rate of 3%; emphasises the importance of severe reduction targets for the aviation sector; urges the Commission to take prompt action to reduce the climate impact from aviation, by creating a pilot emission trading scheme for aviation emissions for the period 2008-2012, covering all flights to and from any EU airport, and to ensure that instruments to tackle the full climate impact of aviation are introduced in parallel; calls for parallel efforts to address also emissions from shipping;

31. Calls on the Commission to set out clearly the path towards the low-CO2 economy by devising a road map which, inter alia, gives more insight into what may be expected from hydrogen and renewable energy; calls on the Commission, at the same time, to identify any bottlenecks in the development and application of new and clean technologies;

32. Underlines that, contrary to the electricity and fuel sectors, the European Union has no systematic approach to support renewable energies in the heating and cooling sector, even though the dependence on gas and oil imports is particularly high in this sector and the costs of increasing the share of renewable energies are comparatively low; therefore calls for a strategy making renewable heating and cooling units competitive by increasing production. States in this regard that bureaucratic regulations at EU level for owners and builders of houses are not the appropriate way, and that preference should be given to a directive setting realistic but ambitious targets and coordinating the Member States' actions based on temporary limited incentives for market access;

33. Considers in this respect that the Commission should present a proposal for a directive on heating and cooling similar to the biofuels proposal;

34. Considers that the rapid development of the use of biomass and the encouragement of farm-related renewable energy production must be a top priority in shifting the focus of the Common Agricultural Policy, along with a balanced approach to food production; stresses that energy production from biomass must be organised in ways that are both effective in terms of energy conversion and ecologically sustainable; in this regard welcomes the Commission's intention to present a biomass action plan and asks the Commission to include legally binding measures in its proposal;

35. Points to the need to diversify lines of research and preventive measures to avoid effects on human health and safety, floods, drought, fires - particularly in forests and protected areas - a decline in biodiversity and economic losses; calls on the Member States and the Commission to take account of the importance of forests and farming in absorbing carbon, slowing down erosion, providing resources and ultimately regulating the climate;

36. In order to ensure an international level playing field, calls on the Commission and the Member States to consider proposing sectoral targets for energy-intensive export industries in countries without binding emission reduction commitments as a supplement to binding emission targets for industrialised countries; furthermore, requests the Commission to explore the possibility of linking the EU emission trading scheme with those of third countries; calls on the Commission to take an active approach to the dialogue with undertakings in each sector of industry in order to review what changes in production, consumption and transport may and must be stimulated in order to reduce GHG emissions in the EU;

37. Calls on the Commission to take seriously into account the "free-rider" problem in the area of climate change mitigation; calls on the Commission and the Member States to investigate the possibility of adopting border adjustment measures on trade in order to offset any short-term competitive advantage producers in industrialised countries without carbon constraints might have; stresses that the international trade patterns have a major impact on climate change; calls, therefore, on the WTO to incorporate a sustainable development mechanism into its work;

38. Considers that in the review of the current Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) and its possible expansion, the idea of grandfathering should be closely reconsidered because of its major shortcomings, and alternatives such as benchmarking and auctioning – using an up-stream approach - should be explored; considers, moreover, that national emission quotas also will have to be reconsidered because of increased cross-border trade, notably as regards electricity;

39. Recommends that the EU develop a specific climate change cooperation policy for developing countries; notes that the integration of climate change considerations into wider development policies requires the development and installation of a number of tools; notes that priorities in this field are agriculture and food security, two areas which are most sensitive to climate; believes further that another key concern is economic diversification, acknowledging that many developing countries in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) are highly dependent on tourism; notes that transport, social planning and energy issues are crucial in counteracting climate change; notes that other priorities would be disaster prevention and preparedness;

40. Welcomes the creation of the Environmental Information System for Environment and Sustainable Development for Africa of the Commission, based on satellite and computer-mapping technologies, helping the development activities of the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) office; recommends that a possible development and extension of the Commission structure to include a climate change observation network should be investigated;

41. Emphasises that, with regard to developing countries' participation in the future climate regime, the EU should clearly recognise that the priority for these countries is poverty and development; however, the UN Millennium Development Goals will never be met if environment issues, such as climate change, are not properly addressed; sustainable development and combating poverty should remain the general framework within which developing countries would be encouraged to adopt policies and measures integrating climate change concerns, whether for adaptation or mitigation;

42. Backs, therefore, the creation of a new coherent political solution to improve the welfare of already vulnerable populations through a global strategy for development with appropriate economic support; recommends that this new strategy should be based on the link between climate change, natural resource management, disaster prevention and poverty eradication;

43. Stresses that economic development is a right for all developing countries; emphasises that the European Union and other industrialised nations must assist the developing countries in the development of sustainable technologies; stresses, however, that developing countries do not have to emulate the polluting practices of the industrialised countries; believes that the rules of the Clean Development Mechanism need to be reformed so that they deliver sustainable development; suggests that the lending priorities of international financial institutions as well as EU aid efforts be shifted towards supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency; proposes as well the launching of a multilateral Sustainable Energy Initiative - involving the EU, countries such as China, India, Brazil, South Africa etc. and some major energy-related corporations - whose aim should be to promote technology cooperation in a big way, energy and transport being the main targets, building on the example of the recently agreed EU-China Climate Change Partnership;

44. Calls on the Commission, as part of the technology cooperation with Annex B countries and as part of its review of the Cotonou Agreement, to assist their governments to adopt national energy strategies so as to minimise their dependence on imported fossil fuels, to promote technology leapfrogging, notably as regards renewable energy, in particular biomass, and to help them meet the UN Millennium Development Goals;

45. Insists on the need for increased financial assistance for climate adaptation for the least-developed countries; considers in this context that the management of sustainable forestry, especially tropical forests, constitutes an important element in both climate mitigation and adaptation and therefore urges the Commission to give priority to this in its development cooperation activities;

46. Calls on the Commission to study the feasibility and merits of setting up a system of personal tradeable emission quotas to involve the citizen and influence private consumption patterns;

47. Calls on the European Institutions to set a positive example by limiting GHG emissions in their various activities, through enhanced energy efficiency in office buildings and for all equipment used, low carbon travel etc.; believes that special efforts should be made in relation to travel of Members of Parliament, implying a reconsideration of the multiple locations of the EP, low-carbon vehicles for the drivers´ service etc;

48. Calls on the Commission to launch an EU initiative in order to increase citizens' awareness of the role played by wasteful consumption and production in climate change;

49. Recognises and supports Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-based solutions to decouple economic growth from energy and material consumption as well as transport and thereby contribute to a more sustainable society; calls on the Commission to suggest policy measures in order to capture ICT-mediated efficiency improvements in housing, dematerialisation, transport and a shift from products to services;

50. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretariat of the UNFCCC and the WTO, with the request that it be circulated to all non-EU contracting parties

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