Poland’s veto of plans to increase the level of Europe’s ambition to limit climate change will alarm all who see the need for the world to move quickly to a low- or no-carbon future (“Poland threats to block low-carbon roadmap”, 8-14 March).
The international negotiations in Durban in December were a relief to those who believed that the UN system was locked in stalemate, but they did nothing to move the level of pledges of emissions reduction closer to those that science tells us are necessary to avoid a catastrophic future. Only increasingly stringent targets like the EU’s will drive the international process. Failing to set targets or back up rhetoric with numbers will only lead business to conclude that politicians are not serious.
Of course, paying for lower-carbon investment is expensive. But Europe seems bent on ignoring the obvious way of keeping the cost down: using the global market for emissions-reductions units to buy reductions as well as to make them at home.
The policy objective is a global one – buying is just as good for the atmosphere as doing it yourself. The European Commission’s analysis, like so many economic studies before it, shows clearly that buying across the world reduces costs dramatically.
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Yet Europe, still the only major purchaser in what was a highly successful global carbon market, is turning its back on it, limiting its use to emissions reductions from least-developed countries – who have practically no emissions to start with.
Small wonder, then, that the cost to Europe is so high that some countries would prefer to put their heads back in the sand.
International Emissions Trading Association