Market crunch must not overshadow climate crisis: WWF

October 14th, 2008 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Oct 14 (Xinhua) The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Tuesday asked the European Union (EU) not to backtrack on its emissions reduction commitments because of the current financial crisis. The WWF launched the appeal through its Brussels-based European Policy Office on the eve of an EU summit, at which the leaders will discuss a climate change package.

“European countries need to reaffirm the EU commitment to cut greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2020, without any escape clauses,” said Delia Villagrasa, a senior advisor at the WWF.

“A strong European climate package will make Europe more resilient to future economic fluctuations, as it will reduce reliance on foreign energy supplies, create more sustainable jobs and lead other countries to join forces to avoid dramatic consequences of climate change,” he said.

The WWF expressed its worries that France, which holds the current EU presidency, may use the financial crisis as an excuse to water down a European Commission proposal. It also sees signs of EU member states backtracking on climate change policies.

One particularly worrying proposal of France would allow even more access to emission reduction “offset” credits in developing countries projects, said the WWF.

It warned that access to significant volumes of project credits will reduce action to cut climate pollution within the EU and allow continued investment in high carbon infrastructure, such as new coal-fired power stations.

France, supported by Italy, Germany and Poland, also wants the manufacturing sector to be exempted from the “polluter pays” principle by receiving pollution allowances for free as a sop to those industries which claim that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme could harm their competitiveness on the global stage, according to the WWF.

Poland and Italy also seek to exclude some power markets from having to purchase all their pollution permits, arguing that in countries without a fully liberalized power market, full auctioning would push up the price of power, according to the WWF.

Many EU member states propose not to earmark revenues from auctioning of pollution permits in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme for measures to tackle climate change, it said.

“It would be a big strategic error to backslide because of the economic downturn at such a critical moment. Everyone should have learned from today’s financial crisis that there are serious consequences for lack of early regulation,” said Villagrasa.

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