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The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP and EU environment ministers letter in the Guardian

Dear editor The EU Commission’s 2050 low-carbon roadmap released last week needs to raise Europe’s sights beyond its current 2020 emission …

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Dear editor

The EU Commission’s 2050 low-carbon roadmap released last week needs to raise Europe’s sights beyond its current 2020 emission reduction targets. While the EU has agreed that emissions must be reduced by at least 80% by the middle of the century, it has not so far set out how to do it. We believe it’s vital such a plan starts now rather than in forty years’ time, and is a plan that can stimulate the right investment in low-carbon infrastructure and technology, putting Europe on track for a low-carbon future.

Now is the right time to discuss the most cost-effective route to achieving our 2050 goals, maximising growth, jobs and prosperity throughout Europe. We are not starting from scratch; the EU has already cut emissions by 17% from 1990 levels by 2009.

The Commission’s roadmap demonstrates both that the current 20% target is not a cost-effective route to the 2050 goal, and that we already have the tools and policies to cut emissions by 25% domestically. The European Energy Efficiency Plan in particular is welcome and shows the big impact reducing energy consumption can have. The case to move to a 30% target by 2020 is now stronger as a result.

At a time when the price of oil is soaring, putting in place an ambitious plan for Europe’s low-carbon future has wider benefits than tackling climate change. It will increase the continent’s resilience against oil price spikes and reduce its dependence on imported energy. And it will help Europe compete with emerging economies in the fast-growing markets for green goods and services.

We know that some industries are worried about how they will adapt, but solutions are available. In the best traditions of European co-operation, we can work together to overcome these challenges.

We call on all member states to enter into this urgent debate on Europe’s future and agree how the roadmap is put into action - ensuring that Europe gets to the front of this low-carbon race, rather than falling behind.

Signed by

The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, UK
Tina Birbili, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Greece
Andreas Carlgren, Minister for the Environment, Sweden
Lykke Friis, Minister of Climate and Energy, Denmark
Rosa Aguilar Rivero, Minister for Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, Spain
Humberto D. Rosa, Secretary of State for Environment, Portugal
Dr Norbert Rottgen, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany

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Published 14 March 2011