Copenhagen, December 8 – The inadequacy and injustice of the emissions reduction targets the European Union is offering at crucial climate change negotiations in Copenhagen are put into perspective by research presented for the first time in Copenhagen tomorrow (Wednesday December 9), says Friends of the Earth International.

A study prepared by Stockholm Environment Institute in partnership with Friends of the Earth Europe proves for the first time the feasibility and affordability of achieving at least 40% emissions cuts in Europe by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, without offsetting.

Read the report here [pdf]

This is the minimum scale and speed of reductions science says is necessary from rich countries to avert the worst impacts of climate change, and is the kind of deep cuts needed if industrialised countries are to repay their climate debt and make a just an effective global climate agreement possible.

Europe has so far set a 20% emission reduction target for 2020, and pledged to increase this to 30% subject to an international agreement.

The chances of reaching an agreement in Copenhagen which delivers climate justice are currently extremely slim since Europe and other developed countries have not committed to steep emission cuts and to provide the finances needed to enable developing countries to tackle climate change, says Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental network.

Dr Charles Heaps of Stockholm Environment Institute, lead author of the report and a senior scientist in SEI’s climate and energy program, said: “Our analysis shows that deep cuts in emissions can be achieved in Europe at reasonable cost between now and 2050, even with rather conservative assumptions about technological improvement. The scale and speed of changes required may seem daunting, and indeed it will require a mobilisation of Europe’s economies, but the potential costs of inaction for Europe and the whole world are so large that doing nothing presents a far more implausible and dangerous future pathway for Europe.”

Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: “Rich countries are responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today and must immediately commit to steep and legally binding reductions of their emissions at home of at least 40% by 2020. These reductions are technically possible and financially feasible, but above all they are morally undeniable. Europe and other rich countries can have no more excuses for not living up to their historical responsibilities.“

The research, ‘Europe’s Share of the Climate Challenge: Domestic Actions and International Obligations to Protect the Planet’ [1] describes a comprehensive pathway for Europe to cut domestic emissions by at least 40% in 2020, and by 90% in 2050, compared to 1990 levels without resorting to  dangerous or unproven solutions. The scenario rules out nuclear power, agrofuels and carbon capture and storage.

The research shows that the cuts can be  achieved through a combination of radical improvements in energy efficiency, the accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels, a dramatic shift towards renewable energies, and lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes envisaged by the study include a shift to public transport with only 43% of trips being made by car in 2050 compared to 75% in 2005. Such changes could make the carbon footprint of the average European 8 times smaller in 2050 than today.

The report estimates the costs of the scenario, and outlines the EU’s fair share of the finances needed for developing countries to fight climate change.

Aggressive actions to cut emissions at home coupled with adequate finances for developing countries are the two-fold obligation which Europe must fulfill to fight climate change in a fair and just way.


For more information contact

Francesca Gater, communications officer for Friends of the Earth Europe, +32 4 85 930 515,

Henry Rummins, communications officer for Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland,

Ruediger Rosenthal, communications officer for Friends of the Earth Germany/BUND, +49 171 8311051 (German mobile),

Charlie Heaps, Stockholm Environment Institute, +1 978 3192472,