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EU fails the world on climate

European leaders have betrayed the world by failing to adopt a powerful EU plan to tackle climate change, says the development agency Christian Aid.

The package of measures they are finalising in Brussels is woefully inadequate and explodes their claim to be international leaders on global warming.

Christian Aid also warns that it seriously damages their credibility with the new US administration of Barack Obama.

Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on climate change, says: “This sends a dangerous message to the international climate talks in Poznan. We had hoped that the EU would set a leading example to other rich countries – one which would inspire them to agree similarly ambitious targets.

“We are deeply disappointed by the agreement which looks set to emerge from Brussels. By failing to adopt a more realistic plan to help keep global temperatures within safe levels, EU leaders have seriously damaged the quest for an effective and equitable solution to the climate crisis.

“Calculations by our partners EcoEquity show that if all industrialized countries cut their emissions by only 20 per cent, in line with the emerging EU agreement, this could lead the world towards a devastating global temperature rise of more than 3oC.

“This would be catastrophic for people around the world and especially for those in developing countries, who are the most vulnerable of all.

“Christian Aid urges the European Parliament to show much greater support for strong European emissions cuts when it votes next week on the ‘effort sharing’ part of the EU package, and to reject today’s deal.”

As well as the hopelessly inadequate targets that EU leaders have set for cutting their emissions, Christian Aid is concerned that even those cuts will be achieved in large part by ‘buying in’ cuts from developing countries. Instead, it is essential that such imported cuts are in addition to any domestic cuts.

Ms Doig says: “Another major concern is the EU plan to give almost full exemptions from buying emissions permits under the European Emissions Trading Scheme to the very industries which pollute the most. This perverse decision, if allowed to stand, will dramatically reduce the scheme’s power to help safeguard the world’s climate.”


For more information, please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446, 07969 314 117 or rbaird@christian-aid.org

Notes to Editors:

  1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in more than 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

  2. Christian Aid’s new report on climate change, Setting the Bar High at Poznan, was written by Alison Doig, its senior adviser on climate change. http://christianaid.org.uk/images/poznan-report.pdf

  3. The conference opening in Poznan on Monday, 1st December runs until Saturday, 13 December. It is the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

  4. EcoEquity’s calculations are based on the EU package of measures on climate change, which will be debated by the European Parliament over the next two weeks. 

  5. EcoEquity’s model calculates how atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide would change if all industrialised countries (Annex 1 countries under the UNFCCC) took on similar annual emissions reductions as those in the EU climate change package. The model then calculates a range of values for how global average temperatures would be affected by those levels of atmospheric CO2, by 2100. Even with cuts of 30 per cent, the resulting carbon in the atmosphere would result in a global temperature rise of between 2C and 3C. With cuts of only 20 per cent, there will be an even larger rise.

  6. With change of 3oC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that global food production will decline, with the greatest reductions in the tropics. In parts of Africa, crop yields could be reduced by 50 per cent, greatly increasing the risk of hunger. Freshwater will be scarce for to three billion people worldwide, in both rural areas and some of the world’s megacities, such as Lima and Calcutta. Health will be affected through increased malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria. Millions of people will be at risk of coastal flooding, with disastrous consequences for many small island states.  Natural disasters such as hurricanes and drought will become far more common place and unpredictable across much of the developing world.

  7. In Europe such temperatures will increase inland flash flooding and coastal flooding, as well as increase the health risks due to heat waves and increased forest fires.