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Is the EU moving towards higher cuts in carbon emissions?

News coming from Brussels suggests that European environment ministers could be moving towards increasing the target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 to 30 per cent compared to 1990 levels.

The ministers are meeting to discuss revising the targets in the wake of a joint declaration by many of the leading businesses in the EU supporting the move. The business leaders suggest in their submission that the need to create a low carbon economy that can compete on the global market is pressing enough to warrant tougher targets.

They also point out that the EU must invest in low carbon technologies now to ensure future energy security, and that the recession has made making cuts to emissions easier and cheaper. In addition, the businesses are convinced that increasing the emissions cuts target will boost the economy and create jobs at a time when they are desperately needed.

The business declaration follows in the wake of an open letter jointly signed by three European climate change ministers – Chris Huhne from the UK, France’s Jean-Louis Borloo and Germany’s Dr. Norbert Röttgen – during the summer, which also called for the target to be increased to 30 per cent.

Both ministers and businesses alike are keen to ensure Europe is at the forefront of the global low carbon market. The low carbon goods and services market is already worth more than £3 trillion and is expected to grow by four per cent per year for at least the next five years. Europe currently has around 22 per cent of that market, and the letter’s signatories say that increasing the target for emissions cuts will ensure that Europe remains competitive with the US and China.

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