Brussels, 14 Feb 2005
Europe is to lead by example in the fight against climate change, the EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas vowed as he unveiled a communication setting out future policies for climate change post 2012, when the first commitment period under the Kyoto protocol ends.
The report, 'Winning the battle against climate change', gives priority to fostering new technologies with a push for more innovation in developing and implementing more climate-friendly solutions. It also calls for more focused research and increased cooperation with third countries for technology transfer and scientific research and development (R&D) cooperation.
'Fighting climate change is not a matter of choice, but a matter of necessity,' said Mr Dimas.
According to the Commission document, the transition to a climate-friendly society offers economic opportunities for the EU, reinforcing its Lisbon agenda.
'The early development and commercialisation of climate-friendly technologies would endow the EU with the 'first-mover advantage' and allow it to capture new markets when global demand for such technologies grow,' believes the Commission.
The report therefore calls for new climate-friendly technologies to be developed and mainstreamed rapidly. European companies already dominate the market in wind power equipment - worth eight billion euro a year and growing at 30 per cent annually - thanks to early support schemes.
Many climate-friendly technologies exist already or are at an advanced pilot stage, states the Commission, listing 15 technologies that have already proven their commercial viability. These technologies, which are expected to help significantly in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, include those that improve efficiency and conserve energy (for example improved fuel economy of vehicles, reduced reliance on cars, more efficient buildings, improved power plant efficiency); those that decarbonise electricity production and fuels (for example by substituting natural gas for coal, storage of carbon captured in power plants, storage of carbon captured in hydrogen plants, storage of carbon captured in synthetic fuel plants, nuclear fission, wind electricity, photovoltaic electricity, renewable hydrogen, biofuels); or those that enhance natural carbon sinks (through better forest management and agricultural soils management).
The further development of these technologies requires a conducive policy framework, states the Commission, praising the EU Emissions Trading Scheme that has already created economic incentives for emissions cuts and therefore the use of climate-friendly technologies. Yet more efforts are needed to support the reduction in the cost of producing electricity from renewable energy sources. Technologies relating to carbon capture and storage must also be encouraged.
'More research will be needed for future technologies, for use in the second half of this century,' emphasises the paper. 'Budgets for climate, energy, transport and production and consumption research need to be increased significantly in Member States and the EU's upcoming 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development.'
The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) will address climate-friendly technology R&D, offering opportunities in the energy, transport, agricultural and industrial sectors, adds the communication. In future, research should also be more focused and directed at improving knowledge on climate change, addressing global and regional impacts and developing cost-effective strategies, believes the Commission.
'The removal of bottlenecks preventing the deployment of existing or promising new technologies and new initiatives (for example, the assessment of the potential of an EU market for green certificates; the swift implementation of Environmental Technology Action Plan) should also be pursued,' the paper goes on.
On the subject of cooperation with third countries, the report suggests it should be promoted through a strategic programme for enhanced technology transfer and scientific R&D cooperation on low greenhouse gas technologies in the field of energy, transport, industry and agriculture.
'It is important for policy makers on all levels to set a clear long-term policy framework in order to direct investments into the direction of a low-carbon economy. Business needs a long-term stable framework for investment decisions,' concludes the report. To read the full report 'Winning the battle against climate change' please visit: http:///www.europa.eu.int/comm/environmen t/climat/pdf/comm_en_050209.pdf