A deal was reached at the Paris climate conference. 200 countries agreed to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would produce no more than 1.5 to 2.0 degrees of warming. There is broad scientific agreement that anything more than that would be beyond the bounds of our capacity to adapt to a warming climate.
Now the hard work really begins. How can we ensure that the agreement translates into meaningful action that helps to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions? Critics argue that the Paris deal is too weak; it has no enforcement mechanism, and the CO2 reduction commitments anyway won’t kick in until 2020. Supporters, however, point out that the Paris summit has brought the international community together in a way that few issues have in the past. There is, at least, a willingness to work together.
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Stephen, arguing that the Paris climate change conference should be considered a failure if it doesn’t put an end to “business as usual”. How can we ensure that governments actually follow through on their promises?
How would YOU cut CO2 emissions? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
I think we need to completely revamp the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). It does not work. It granted too many emissions rights to large corporations and they actually made a huge profit through the trading scheme without having a tangible impact on CO2 emissions. We need a big new deal and investment programme which kickstarts renewable energy but which also transforms, for example, our public transport systems. And if we do not solve it then it will be much more costly and have a much worse impact on economic development because we will have to cope with the cost of climate change, which will be tremendous if we do not act now.
The European Union should be more ambitious regarding its own targets. The Council conclusion of October 2014 about emissions reduction, the share of renewables, and energy efficiency targets was clearly too unambitious and they are far from putting us on the track to sustainability. So, the European Union should raise and increase its ambitions on the European level, and also the Member States should do everything to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. And this is also essential to keep the role for the European Union as the global forerunner of climate efforts. With low ambitions, the EU is not able to behave at the global level as a credible leader for climate efforts.
I think it’s necessary to get new rules on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Without that, we can’t get the system to function, so that’s very important. But, on the other hand, one of the big tools we can use to reduce CO2 emissions is energy efficiency. There are a lot of “low-hanging fruit” to lower energy consumption. And, at the same time, we can lower our dependency on Mr Putin and his gas, and also oil from the Middle East.
The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as it stands is broken. This may be our only chance to prove to Europe and the rest of the world that emissions trading systems can work. We need to strike the right balance between protecting industry and jobs, and meeting our climate change obligations. I don’t think those goals are mutually exclusive, but I do know that the EU ETS as it stands is not delivering either.
Roger Helmer (EFD), Member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (NOTE: We contacted the EFD for comment but they did not reply in time for publication. The below is from a speech made by Roger Helmer following the Paris climate conference:
The Paris agreement is a damp squid. It is little more than aspirational. There is no implementation or enforcement mechanism. That leaves the EU competitively disadvantaged as the only area with legally-enforceable emissions obligations.
We have talked about keeping global warming to 2 degrees C, or 2.7 or 1.5, but the IPCC itself suggests a very wide range of values for climate sensitivity, between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees per doubling of CO2. With this huge range of uncertainty, it is simply delusional to pretend that we can set meaningful targets to 1/10th of a degree.
But the real problems we face will be political, not environmental. The economic damage and the sacrifices required from citizens to implement the Paris agreement are simply not deliverable in a democratic context. Governments that seek to implement this agreement will create an economic wasteland…
Curious to know more about efforts to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions across Europe? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Louis Vest
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