EU must keep climate plans despite economic crisis

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Europe must not water down its plans to tackle global warming despite the current financial crisis, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said on Wednesday.

“There is an economic crisis, a financial crisis, an energy crisis and there is a climate crisis,” Dimas told reporters after talks with Poland’s environment minister.

“The climate crisis is permanent. All the other crises today, tomorrow, I hope will pass but the climate crisis is a permanent threat for the globe.

“We have to face it and we cannot really change our objectives because of a crisis that happens this month or the other,” he said.

In January, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, proposed a series of measures with the overall aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

One of the measures was to bring the level of renewable energy up to 20 percent of total consumption.

Poland and some other member states have “expressed concerns” at reaching the targets and “we take them into account,” said Dimas.

He said some tinkering with the plans could take place by year-end so as not to create economic and social problems, but “without diluting the environmental integrity of the proposal.”

Polish MP Jerzy Buzek and Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki said the EU proposals’ main goal, the 20 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2020, was not up for discussion.

“We want the best way, the optimal way,” said Buzek.

“And also not very costly,” added Nowicki.

They acknowledged that the energy sector must be modernised and that energy prices would have to rise in order to work towards the goal.

Nowicki did not repeat the threat he made earlier this month that Warsaw would block the climate package if it did not suit Poland.

Asked about this point by AFP, the minister merely burst into laughter.

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