Catherine Bearder MEP writes… EU climate targets thanks to Ed Davey and Lib Dems

Green wind farmThis week, European leaders including David Cameron thrashed out an agreement on the EU’s climate change targets up until 2030.

The EU has been a world leader in the fight against climate change, becoming the first region to set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in the face of the financial crisis, leaders have become more nervous and the momentum behind the drive towards a greener economy has started to wane.

That is why we need to be shouting about what the Lib Dems in Government, particularly our energy secretary Ed Davey, have done to make sure this deal happened. In recent months, Ed has been busy touring Europe’s capitals, building up support for an ambitious EU-wide approach to tackling climate change. He has ensured that the UK is one of the strongest advocates in the EU for cutting emissions and leading the drive towards a low-carbon economy, and has led the formation of the Green Growth Group made up of 13 European governments including Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

This grouping of like-minded countries led the calls for EU targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and to drive innovation and investment in the renewables and energy efficiency sectors.

This is not just about “green crap” as David Cameron might say. Hard economic interests are also at stake. Europe’s future competitiveness depends on being a world leader in sectors such as renewables and energy efficiency.

All over the world, major economies such as the US, China and India are waking up to the fact that future growth will have to be clean and sustainable. Over the next 15 years, an estimated 90 trillion dollars will be spent on building modern and low-carbon infrastructure in the developing world. A whole new generation of high-tech firms and entrepreneurs are sprouting up to seize on the huge opportunities this presents to attract investment and create jobs in the green economy.

Traditionally, Europe has had the cutting edge in these sectors. We are well placed to lead the global shift towards sustainability, creating up to 20 million jobs in the process.

Many countries, predominantly from Eastern Europe were set against this deal so getting this ambitious agreement is an important achievement. The deal also puts the EU in a strong position to continue taking the lead in global talks in Paris next year.

I, like many of you, would have preferred to see even more ambitious targets on renewables and energy efficiency, but, we should all remember that without the Lib Dems in government, the UK would not have been fighting for an ambitious CO2 target at all. Well done Ed.

* Catherine Bearder is a Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East and Leader of the European Parliament Liberal Democrat Group.

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