Major corporations call for tougher EU emissions cuts

More than 70 major corporations yesterday called on the EU to increase its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 30%.

The signatories to the declaration, which has been orchestrated by WWF, The Climate Group and the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, includes BT, Coca-Cola, Google, Marks & Spencer, Eurostar, IKEA, John Lewis, Nike and Unilever, as well as energy companies Centrica, DONG Energy, and Scottish and Southern Energy.

Together the companies account for over 3.8 million employees and a combined turnover of more than €1 trillion – a sum larger than GDPs of Poland, Sweden and Austria.

The declaration calls for a European policy framework that will drive innovation and investment in energy efficiency and renewables.
According to research cited by the WWF, increasing the EU’s emission reduction target would cut imports of oil and gas by €45.5 billion in 2020.

“Sticking with the current EU 20% target would simply perpetuate a cycle of low ambition that will inevitably lead to dangerous climate change. The 30% target is a no-regrets position for Europe’s economy, and it is logical to move to it now,” says Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK.

The call comes ahead of two crucial votes on proposal to up the existing 20% target next week by the EU Environment Council and the European Parliament. A group of countries, including the UK, France and Germany, have led the push for a higher emission reduction target.

UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, who has led the campaign for a tougher target in the UK, welcomed the move.

“More and more businesses now realise that Europe’s future prosperity lies in a low carbon economy. There is a danger that the current lack of resolve from the EU will put a brake on the growth aspirations of some of Europe’s biggest firms,” he commented.

But the call for a tougher target has met with opposition from many southern and eastern European nations, many of whom are dependent upon carbon-intensive industries.

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Related stories:
UK retailer Marks and Spencer hails success on Plan A (13-Jun)
PUMA’s environmental P&L reveals impact of raw materials (17-May)
UK retailer Tesco to work with suppliers to reduce carbon footprint (13-May)
EC compromises on raising emission reduction target to 25% by 2020 (9-Mar)

16 June 2011