Climate change facts abound, and those who doubt the authenticity of claims from climate change scientists see these statistics as fiction rather than fact. The Climate Change / Global Warming debate has been going on for decades now, with mixed results. Believers on the left, naysayers on the right. Climate change is back in the headlines once again, this time from Europe.
European leaders have been debating climate change for more than a week as the European Union (EU) seeks to craft a protocol for the release of greenhouse gases, i.e. hydrocarbons, and how to further develop renewable energy sources for its citizenry. The renewable energy debate has been a point of contention for big oil and coal industry lobbyists the U.S., and it is becoming a divisive issue for European leaders as well.
EU leaders gathered in Brussels this past week for a series of meetings to propose and adopt a new set of rules regarding climate change related issues. The main focus of these meetings was controlling carbon emissions, with one proposal receiving approval, that of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030 versus the already agreed upon 1990 levels. This positions the EU to take the lead in the global climate change debate, well in advance of a United Nations meeting on the issue scheduled to begin on Nov. 30, 2015 in Paris.
These recent EU agreements on climate change initiatives will allow the EU to get out in front of the 2015 scheduled meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The original framework for this convention was adopted in 1992, and has been approved by the legislative bodies of more than 190 countries to date. Previously, the UNFCCC ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a binding resolution relating to international carbon emission objectives, with enforcement beginning in 2005.
The Kyoto Protocols created an overall targeted global carbon emissions level to effect change in the international climate change debate, allowing member states to buy and sell unused carbon emission units. Observations from both sides of the aisle continued to elicit a marked response to the debate over whether climate change was actually fact or fiction, the theories of which run the gamut. German Chancellor Andrea Merkel indicated that this advance initiative would establish the EU as a force to be reckoned with in the global climate change debate community moving forward and that any “future binding commitments” from the UNFCCC meeting next year would likely be approved, based on the agreements ratified this past week in Brussels.
International business leaders have called for a moratorium on limiting global carbon emissions output, citing a stagnant overall economic outlook for Europe, and job loss in the coal and oil industries as a result of any agreement reached that limits carbon emissions. Overall, the EU will be targeting a 27 percent green energy threshold, with member states trading units to achieve that goal, similar to the basic tenets of the Kyoto Protocols.
Environmental groups were less than pleased with the agreements, saying they failed to make any progress on increasing limits on emissions controls, noting that the other portion of the agreement – renewable energy – was not binding upon the EU. Greenpeace issued a statement saying “these targets are too low,” and would hamper efforts by environmentalists to “boost renewable energy” thereby ensuring that the EU would continue to be held hostage by the coal industry and the oil and gas industry as well.
By Jim Donahue