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Carbon emissions: It’s target time, kind of

Both the UK and EU are coming out with carbon plans and targets at the moment.

The Huffington Post reports that:

“The European Union needs to double its efforts to boost energy efficiency in order to cut greenhouse gases, partly by producing better household appliances, renovating public buildings and private homes, and driving improved cars”.

The EU wants to cut emissions, as many of you will know, 80% by the year 2050.

The new EU plan, “Roadmap 2050” says cuts should be 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040.

Now the EU Parliament must vote on it, and member states need to be persuaded to make plans for it to actually happen.

Roadmap 2050 says and investment of 270 billion Euros a year, around 1.5% of EU annual economic output, will need to be spent. This is in line, proportionally, with the revised Stern Review expectations and that of the UNEP report which came out just last month on the monies need to tackle climate change.

The EU plan is to recover all cost through lower oil and gas import costs, which look unsustainable, particularly at current pricing levels.

To put all this in context, even spending 270 billion Euros a year will mean the EU will be BEHIND China, India and Korea in green investments, according the new EU report. If this is true, it’s a significant fact. I guess it depends on how you work it out.

On current form, the US will lag further and further behind. My guess is that commercial pressures will force its companies to eventually lobby harder and louder than the recalcitrant energy sector and so adapt policy by financial rationale. The question of course, is when will that happen?.

Meanwhile, the UK coalition government has come out with a “carbon plan” of its own.

Green-minded Brits will no doubt argue it’s not as ambitious as it should be.

The Guardian argues that it simply shows that the Liberal Democrat led Department of Energy and Climate Change is relatively ambitious, but has not yet got the Tory-led parts of the Government on board, and is now streaking ahead of them with promises that may not be met.

Judge for yourself. One thing is certain though: Despite US environmental action stasis, the rest of the world is slowly moving ahead, step by stumbling step, towards a lower-carbon future. Whether that’s quick enough to keep us within 4 degrees of climate change by 2100 is another matter.

Here’s a two minute National Geographic video on what that might mean.

(Kind of related, here’s a new Siemen’s sponsored report on the state of green cities)

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