Today the European Commission published a long-awaited paper that outlines the numerous benefits increased climate action would bring Europe. “Options to move beyond 20% greenhouse gas emission reductions: Member State results” looks at every single member state, and says what deeper cuts in emissions mean for energy costs, technology investments, fuel costs, air quality and public health. Among its many findings, it shows that going for a target of cutting Europe’s emissions by 30% by the year 2020 is feasible, beneficial and much cheaper than previously thought.
The benefits of moving to more ambitious targets are plentiful and far-reaching. Apart from saving us money in these times of economic crisis, a stronger target to clean up and modernize the European economy will:
- Save an extra € 20 billion of fuel expenses per year between 2016 and 2020, savings which offset the € 18 billion extra investments needed in the energ sector to move beyond the current 20% target.
- Help reduce money spent and dependence on fossil fuels we have to import from abroad, boost air quality and save pollution costs of up to € 2.7 billion per year.
- Create up to 1.5 million extra jobs by 2020. According to the new EU report, a range of smart policy decisions – for example reducing fossil fuel subsidies and increasing energy efficiency – will boost research in and development of modern technologies made in Europe. This, together with a reduction in labor costs, is good for 1.5 million new jobs by 2020.
This announcement was met with enthusiasm and support from TckTckTck partners across the European Union. The climate policy experts at Climate Action Network Europe responded with the following statement:
“This study is important because it offers Member States a way to ensure greater stability and resilience against oil price and supply fluctuations, which in turn will create stronger economies and a healthier environment in all of Europe,” said Julia Michalak, EU Climate Policy Officer at CAN Europe. “The Commission’s findings remove any doubt about the benefits of stronger European-wide climate action,” Michalak continued. “Higher targets will benefit the EU’s citizens and economy as well as poorer countries already experiencing the effects of climate change in other parts of the world.”
Along with the many economic benefits of increased emission targets are the health benefits of reducing greenhouse gas pollution. The report estimates that the new emission targets would provide between €3.4 to €7.9 billion annually by reducing mortality rates from chronic and dangerous health conditions including bronchitis, asthma and heart attacks. And while those statistics are incredible on their own, our partners at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) feel they may even be overly conservative. In their statement on the report, HEAL commented:
“Governments should seize this good news on health benefits to raise the EU’s climate ambition under the Danish Presidency. The health economic benefits for both the EU and member states are significant, and yet we know they are just the tip of the iceberg, and do not reflect the full public health benefits of moving to 30%, as recent studies have shown”, states Genon Jensen, HEAL Executive Director. “The analysis does not include the other benefits that accrue to society when we are not sick, such as fewer working days lost because of illness, fewer medications or fewer hospital admissions. It only covers the savings from avoiding deaths due to fewer respiratory and heart conditions because of improvements in air quality.”
Later today the Environment committee in EU parliament will vote to adopt a draft report on the 2050 low carbon economy roadmap (which would then be forwarded to for a vote in plenary mid-March). Here’s hoping they make the right choice for our future and for the economy.
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