india-traffic-jamIn a debate earlier this year on climate change, we published a contribution from the British MEP Roger Helmer, a member of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP), arguing that global CO2 emissions are going up so fast that there’s nothing we can do about it. He believed, therefore, that measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions were needlessly damaging to Europe’s economy:

helmer-speaksAt the moment, there are something like twelve-hundred new coal-fire power stations in the pipeline around the world, including 25 in Germany. So, if we think that we need to reduce CO2 globally, I’m afraid we just have to accept that we’ve failed. It won’t happen.

More fossil fuels are being discovered, we’re finding shale gas, the Japanese are finding methane from the seabed, and the Americans are fracking vast quantities of gas. We are going to be increasing global atmospheric CO2 whatever we do. We can crucify our economies in Europe and in Britain on the alter of climate change in the hopes of making a difference but, in fact, the emissions are going up so fast in China, in India, and around the world, that we won’t make any difference.

Not long afterwards, we had a question sent in by Marco from Portugal who wanted to follow up on Roger Helmer’s point. Marco wanted to know what the EU could do regarding increasing CO2 emissions from developing countries, particularly China and India. Estimates suggest that China accounts for almost one quarter (23%) of global CO2 emissions, whilst the USA produces almost as much (19%) and the EU is responsible for 13% (India, however, accounts for just 6% of global emissions).

To get a response, we spoke to the Polish Minister of Environment, Marcin Korolec. He was adamant that countries must agree voluntarily to lower emissions, and the EU should not try to force them to do so (on this point: it’s interesting to note that the Polish government has come into conflict with EU rules on CO2 reduction in the past).
To get another perspective, we also spoke to Halldor Thorgeirsson, the Director for Implementation Strategy at the UNFCCC Secretariat. How would he respond?
Next, we put a question to Halldor Thorgeirsson from Dobromir. He blamed lobbying from the oil and gas industry on slowing down the rate of adoption of renewable energy technologies:

The oil and gas industry generate enormous profits and have strong lobbies in most countries. They have a big influence on many politicians and their decisions. This is the primary reason why the transition to renewable energy is slow.

How would Thorgeirsson respond?

Finally, we had a video question sent in from Bethany, wanting to know why policy-makers continue to rely on market-based solutions like the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The ETS has had a bumpy time recently, with the collapse of the carbon market earlier this year and ongoing talks over whether or not to prop up prices. So, has the market-based approach failed?

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – ePi.Longo

33 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think? Is there anything the EU can do to prevent increasing CO2 emissions from developing countries such as China? Has the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme failed? And why is the transition to renewables so slow? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we'll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

    • avatar

      Not needed. Climate change is a natural phenomenon. Cannot be stopped.

  1. avatar
    Máté Parászka

    get a bike, in the winter everybody moves to south, in the summer to north, so half a year you make ritch the south, half a year the north, and u all can do it by bike and train?

  2. avatar
    Olivier Laurent

    “What can Europe do about CO2 emissions in the developing world?”
    Nothing. This is a geographical area, not a person.

  3. avatar
    Gezim Prenga

    Never trust, always belive!
    We should, we could, we MUST but we don’t, that’s the question.

  4. avatar
    Paul X

    In a word, nothing can be done by the EU

    And Roger Helmer is right. is there any point crippling our industries just so we can take the moral high ground and claim how “clean” Europe is while the world continues to be killed by China and the US?

    • avatar

      Never underestimate the criminal level of sociopathy of the unelected Eurosoviet officials in Brussels. They will do anything to seem ‘progressive’, ordinary people be darned. Heck, why do you think they made the EU undemocratic to begin with? Precisely so their policies wouldn’t cost them their jobs.

  5. avatar
    Spyros Tsakos

    Directly we can not do much but indirectly Europe should give the example by speeding up its transition to renewables(that would have positive effects on economy as well), encouraging the rest of the world to do the same(especially China and USA who has not sign the Kioto protocol) and reducing in the same time our energy dependence from Russia.

  6. avatar
    Samo Košmrlj

    it is simple, tax them, and dont even start on telling me how this will result in reciprocal taxes from them. what we really dont need is millions of tons of low quality stuff

    • avatar

      So I take it you don’t own an iphone or a galaxy?

  7. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    China has installed more solar capacity than Europe or the US in the past 4 years. Don’t really know where this “white man’s burden to civilize” is coming from.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Yes China leads the way in producing solar panels…….unfortunately any benefit to the environment is lost by them dumping the toxic by-products

  8. avatar

    An easy way to reduce global CO2 is to stop people migrating in great numbers from low CO2 (mainly South) to high CO2 (mainly North) countries. Instead helping to make life in low CO2 societies more attractive.

  9. avatar
    Hani Kamel

    I want to subscribe to the debate.

  10. avatar
    catherine benning

    Scientists are undecided on what changes are really taking place on our planet or why.

    In my opinion what is taking place cannot be changed by the human race. We are not remotely powerful enough to do that. Our planet changes its pattern continuously and it would be extraordinary if it didn’t continue to do so. The single real difference is, we now have the technology to know, scientifically, something is indeed changing. Before, all we could do was intuitively suspect what was taking place. And as always, people are using the debate and confusion to make money, one way or another.

    Here is an intelligent longer version of the above.

  11. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    Not much directly, perhaps:

    Invest more in Thorium NPRs.

    Invest more in Fusion NPRs.

    Invest more in Hydrogen fuel cell research – even more than has been recently allocated by the EU.

    Create numerous mega wave-farms to generate consistent and reliable energy 24/7/365.

    Enhance food testing such that non-EU nations that supply the EU with tainted food [in terms of microscopic pollution) have said food classified as ‘B’ class – thereby ‘encouraging’ anti-pollution policies perhaps?

  12. avatar
    Marco Silva

    Are those measures relative (per capita) or absolute (energy)?
    If you shared the source, we would be thankful.

  13. avatar
    Jimmy Flindt

    Do you agree that we are not doing enough to effectively protect our environment and end pollution? This initiative might actually make a real difference. Please check it out and consider giving your support:

  14. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias

    A civilização industrial esta cada vez aumentar injetado na atmosfera terreste carbono CO2 O Concelho da ONU e o Concelho da UE devem encontrar caminhos novos e adiantar soluções de travar o aquecimento global A China Moderna e os outros paises em desenvolvimento têm também a sua responsabilidade a sustentabilidade a coservação do meio ambiente é inportante dentro dos grandes centros urbanos porque a doutrina sobre o globalismo desta crise obriga a que a nossa natureza esteja furiosa

  15. avatar
    Samuel Tandorf

    It would certainly help to fire people like Roger Helmer as a first step.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Why fire someone for stating the obvious?
      The EU is strangling its businesses with environmental restrictions that a lot of other countries couldn’t care less about. Pollution does not stop at borders, sitting on the moral high ground isn’t going to save us …but it can kill our industries

  16. avatar
    Samuel Tandorf

    We can always start with transportation. If cars continue to be subsidized by the EU and state governments we will not only lose the money we put into it but also the battle against CO emissions.

  17. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Os governos da União devem criar uma nova estratégica de politicas ambientais dentro dos grandes centros urbanos e os politicos que não estejam contaminados com o passado a Sustentabilidade é uma farramenta inportante dentro das cidades porque irá reduzir os gases poluidores do ar atmosférico dentro dos grandes centros urbanos

  18. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    To demand to stop the disgrace of the pollution market.
    To threaten with embargo the countries which pollute.
    The planet is small and Philippines aren’t so far as they seem!

  19. avatar
    Max Dohe

    CCS – carbon capture and storage. I don’t get why it hasn’t spread yet, it’s the only way to achieve any sort of “Energiewende” using bridge technologies like coal.

  20. avatar

    There is no problem with CO2 emissions.
    Give up the harmful global warming cult.
    Give up Kyoto.
    Give up subsidising “green energy” (which is actually harmful to the environment, as well as expensive).
    That’s what we need to do.
    There is no global warming, the weather used far warmer in the 80s when I was a kid. Just go out, see for yourselves and think how it used to be 20-30 years ago.
    Also, stop trusting “scientists” who tell you that drought is caused by global warming, but floods are also caused by global warming, that both retreating and expanding glaciers are due to global warming, that global warming is to blame for retreating as well as expanding sea ice, etc.
    Coal is good, oil is good.

  21. avatar

    Hey, in my opinion we should destroy the sun

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