What’s the Deal with Greenhouse Gases

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The European Union (EU) reached an agreement on a greenhouse gas deal that would cut overall carbon emissions 40 percent on 1990 levels by 2030. This means in the next 15 years the goal is for carbon emissions to be 2/5ths of what they were in 1990. Part of the plan is to increase renewable energy sources by 27 percent. The plan also called for a 27 percent energy efficiency improvement.

With a plan in place, the EU was one of the first in the world to set a greenhouse gas deal. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commissions was quoted in The Guardian saying, “no player in the world is as ambitious as the EU”. Sounds like a good deal, right? Not everyone agrees on just how ambitious the deal really is.

Based on the compromises that were made for countries like Poland, Britain and others, business seems to take center stage over climate change in this deal. Negotiations were made in order to reach the agreement. For example, Poland, a country highly dependent on coal, threatened to back out if their industry would have to take cuts. Polish citizens would rather see a shift in financial support toward renewables, according to the global polling system TNS. Yet Poland is still going to be making millions from the coal industry even with the new deal. This standard tells countries with big industry, like China and India, if carbon emissions help you make money, let the coal burn.

The message the EU should be sending is the cost of climate change is greater than the cost of renewable energies. The EU is trying this with the 27 percent increase in renewables. However, exceptions are being made so countries with large carbon emissions do not have to cut on industry and lose money.

In addition, the 27 percent efficiency improvement is non-binding. Tony Robson, CEO of one of the leading insulation companies in Europe, said this improvement is not impressive. He comments that the goal is actually standard. Unless we want to stay on the current path to global climate change we need to do better than the usual.

The EU should be given credit for bringing countries together and setting a goal especially considering in 2012 they were responsible for about 10% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps the EU’s initiative will set the precedent for other big carbon emission countries to set reduction goals. With any luck, other countries will be more ambitious than the EU because it is time to get serous about global climate change.

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