European Commissioners debate as Chris Huhne pushes for tougher environmental targets

The Guardian reports,

Europe’s climate chief [Connie Hedegaard] insisted on Monday that tougher greenhouse gas targets would improve the EU’s economic performance, rather than push businesses overseas, as companies and green campaigners tussled over whether current emissions goals were too weak…

Her words came as a row flared between Chris Huhne, the UK’s climate change secretary, and G√ľnther Oettinger, the EU’s energy commissioner, over whether to toughen the European climate target from a cut of 20% in emissions by 2020 to a 30% cut.

Last week, Oettinger warned: “If we go alone to 30%, you will only have a faster process of de-industrialisation in Europe. We need industry in Europe, and industry means CO2 emissions.”

Huhne, who has been a prime mover behind the plan for higher targets, hit back angrily, telling the Guardian: “The short-termist view of sticking to 20% doesn’t cut the mustard. Moving to 30% would give our businesses a head-start in new green industries and get us off the oil hook quicker, insulating us from oil price spikes.”…

Hedegaard was careful to avoid any explicit criticism of her fellow commissioner, and insisted that there was “debate” but no row within the European commission on the issue. She cited research from across Europe showing that member states had increased their economic output over the past two decades while cutting emissions, and pointed out that if EU leaders kept to promises made earlier this month to improve energy efficiency, then the EU would easily surpass its 20% target in any case.

You can read the full story here.

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