Brook Riley of the Climate Justice and Energy Team of Friends of the Earth Europe sent us a letter on what he regards as BusinessEurope’s dragging-its-feet attitude towards EU climate policy. He suspects its BusinessEurope’s goal “to obstruct, to delay and to create doubt in the minds of policymakers about the need to address global warming”.
Climate change is truly a life-and-death challenge for all of us. With such high stakes, it’s important to try and see the funny side sometimes in the fight to prevent global warming.
One moment of humour was provided last week by Markus Beyrer – the director general of lobby group BusinessEurope – at a conference on 2030 climate and energy policies organised by the EU Commission.
Mr Beyrer started by making clear BusinessEurope’s opposition to targets for energy efficiency and renewables. To avoid confusing the market, he said, the EU should only use the Emissions Trading System to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
But to the surprise of many in the room, Beyrer then went on to say he actually thinks the EU should have two other aims: to re-industrialise Europe and to increase energy security. As it happens, experts agree that both can best be done with … energy efficiency and renewables! In other words, Beyrer spoke against multiple targets in one breath, and with the next called for the creation of an additional two targets.
Then, having talked about the need to focus on the Emissions Trading System, Beyrer proceeded to underscore BusinessEurope’s opposition to fixing the glut of excess permits in the system. In other words, he favours an ETS-only approach – but does not want reforms designed to make the ETS more effective.
His final argument was that the EU should not show leadership by setting an ambitious target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This would be bad for competitiveness. Instead, Europe should wait until 2015 or later to see what other countries around the world are prepared to do. Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce – BusinessEurope’s counterpart on the other side of the Atlantic – is lobbying in support of the Keystone XL pipeline to open the US market to Canadian tar sands (perhaps the filthiest energy source). It seems the strategy is to ensure nobody takes the initiative on climate legislation.
The contradictions in Beyrer’s statement verged on the absurd. What’s not funny is that his incoherency masks, I suspect, a determined attempt to throw rhetorical dust in our eyes. It seems clear that BusinessEurope’s goal is to obstruct, to delay and to create doubt in the minds of policymakers about the need to address global warming.
Read the science, Mr Beyrer. The International Energy Agency is becoming a fervent advocate of the need to take urgent climate action and to do so by cutting energy use. The President of the World Bank says we should be ‘shocked into action’. How can business possibly benefit if global warming is allowed to continue unchecked?
Brook Riley, Friends of the Earth Europe
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