Two more commissioners enter climate debate

December 21, 2006

Two leading EU commissioners, Günter Verheugen and Peter Mandelson, have spoken out on climate change amid signs that the debate on global warming emissions is gaining importance in EU circles.


Verheugen, the enterprise commissioner, wrote a letter to the Commission president José Manuel Barroso calling for more efficient use of economic instruments in fighting climate change and securing energy supply. His letter, understood to be an attempt at influencing a revision of the EU’s energy policy expected in January, calls for additional measures to encourage cars to be made more fuel-efficient, and says the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) must have both more participants (he wants cars included) and also more gases.

Mandelson, whose portfolio is trade, said in a speech this month that Europe’s transport needs to clean up its environmental performance, adding: “Europe needs to do more than stabilise its environmental impact – we need to reverse it.”

He also highlighted the competitive advantage European countries can gain by being the first to embrace cleaner technology, and pointed out that the costs of cleaning up technology are often relatively small in terms of overall GDP. “We have to see climate change as an opportunity agenda, not as a burden to be shouldered,” he said.

T&E’s director Jos Dings said: “It is important that both men acknowledge that Europe should set unilateral targets, a view now broadly shared in the commission. Both also recognise that energy-intensive industries that are sensitive to global prices need to be treated differently from other sectors like transport, which means in effect that transport needs more measures to contain its worst effects than just subjecting it to emissions trading.”

Verheugen also called for cars to enter the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, something T&E rejects on grounds of effectiveness.

This news story is taken from the December 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.