Greener economies and investment to reduce unemployment and increase global growth

Miguel Arias Cañete, Member of the EC in charge of Climate Actionand Energy, and Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA), gave a joint press conference on the launch of the "Trends and projections in Europe 2015" report. (EC Audiovisual Services, 20/10/2015)

Miguel Arias Cañete, Member of the EC in charge of Climate Actionand Energy, and Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA), gave a joint press conference on the launch of the “Trends and projections in Europe 2015” report. (EC Audiovisual Services, 20/10/2015)

In less than a month now the UN Climate Conference will be taking place in Paris in order to implement measures that could reverse the downhill of the global climate. At the same time the Corporate Europe Observatory’s survey reveals that the European Commission (EC) is highly promoting the “dirty” energy companies more than the renewable industry by meeting more often with the former ones and thus expensive lobbying making part of important EU climate decisions.

Moreover, the launch of the Global Climate Change Alliance+ (GCCA+) by Commissioner Mimica is meant to change the outlook of how developing countries are addressing the issue of climate change. This project will use around 350 million euros of EU funds till 2020 apart from the extra private and public investments involved.

But the EU is not alone in this fight. The Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that China’s “annual emissions of greenhouse gases will reach a peak no later than 2030, and that it will invest heavily in making the transition to low-carbon economic growth”. The latter strongly reveals the political will of this large economy to commit to the fight against climate change, urging the rest of the member states to act accordingly.

Is the EC influenced by big energy companies?

The research “Cooking the planet: Big Energy’s year of privileged access to Europe’s climate commissioners” issued by the Corporate Europe Observatory has used data of the EC and concluded that 80% of the meetings of Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, responsible for Climate and Energy and Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Energy Union, involved the private sector. The majority of those meetings is with fossil fuel companies which are responsible to a great extent for the climate change. It seems that the money invested by big oil companies in lobbying is paying off according to this study.

However, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has published a small selection of data on energy, transport and environment in the EU related to climate change which demonstrate that renewables have increased their share in final energy consumption while greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) decreased from 1990 to 2013. The latter contradicts the findings of the Corporate Europe Observatory’s survey which implies that the European Commission favours the big energy companies leaving doubts about the objectivity of the climate and energy decision-makers.

But even if there has been a substantial decrease to the GHG (17,9% compared to the 1990’s EU level), more things should be done since the future targets (40% decrease by 2030) that have been set seem very promising but unreal if we continue reducing GHG at the same pace.

Developing countries added to the climate change equation

The purpose of the GCCA+ is not only to provide an exchange of views on climate policies between the EU and developing countries but also to support the latter ones financially in order to adapt to the climate changes and turn their energy infrastructure towards a more renewable approach.

Last Thursday, Commissioner Mimica, responsible of International Cooperation and Development, mentioned during the meeting for the GCCA+ launch:  “It is a top priority for the EU to assist the most vulnerable countries in their efforts to adapt to climate change and at the same time to transit to green and sustainable economies. There are encouraging success stories which we will replicate and take further over the next years.”

This project will conclude in 2020 and is supposed to be EU’s ace in view of the COP21 Conference. It is supposed to address the worrying issue of climate change but the 350 million euros support is not going to provide the desired results unless it will be leveraged with global private and public investments. Only then the possibilities of tackling the climate change will increase substantially.

China leads the climate change fight

It was last Monday when Francois Hollande, French President, signed a declaration with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping about the emission cuts ahead of the COP21 Conference. At a joint statement, China committed to focus on growth at a low carbon framework and both countries agreed to convene every five years till 2050 to reevaluate their climate strategies.

Further, the two sides decided that climate finance should be increased to the developing countries after 2020 in order to reduce the consequences of climate change.

The latter deal clearly shows the will of the second biggest economy in the world to play a leading role in the negotiations and the contributions of the Paris COP21 and climate change policies in general.

All in all, the implementation of measures taken only by the EU and China will not be enough though to decarbonize the global economy by the end of this century. Greener investments will bring not only more jobs and growth to the global economy but enhance the quality of our lives as well.

Follow Chris on Twitter @CAnyfantis

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