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EU retreating from carbon emissions pledge

Christian Aid says the European Union is showing a clear lack of vision and leadership in the climate change debate.

Just ahead of today’s European Council of Heads of State meeting, the Environment Commissioner offered a ‘get-out’ clause to Europe’s commitments on cutting carbon emissions.

Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Advisor Dr Alison Doig said: ‘Lack of strong leadership and commitments form Europe threatens the outcome in the global climate talks next year.

‘This will set the world on a path towards uncontrolled climate change. The poor people of the world will be hit first and hardest.’

The current EU commitment is to cut carbon emissions by 20 per cent (from 1990 levels) by the year 2020. Today’s statement by Commissioner Stavros Dimas stated that more than half of the EU emissions cuts could be purchased overseas in high emitting countries such as India and China.

This would mean in real terms less than 10 per cent cuts within the EU. He also stated the funds raised though the sales of emissions permits through carbon options to industry will no longer have to be re-invested in clean low-carbon technologies in Europe.

The net result is far from a shift to a low-carbon economy, but rather a maintaining of the status quo for heavily industrialised countries.

On the day Christian Aid launches its ‘Countdown to Copenhagen’ campaign aimed at getting a fair and far-reaching deal at the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Denmark next year, Dr Doig said: ‘Without a radical shift to a low-carbon economy in Europe and other industrialised countries, poor countries will be faced with increasing food and water scarcity, more climate change-induced natural disasters and increased exposure to tropical diseases, such as malaria.

‘Justice and equity call for the polluters to act now, to avoid worsening global economic and social crisis caused by climate change both at home and in the developing world.’

Christian Aid believes this lack of leadership and vision by the European Union will pave the way to much more than a 2oC increase in global temperature rise in coming decades, with devastating impacts primarily on the world’s poorest people.

Climate science shows that avoiding catastrophic climate change will require cuts of 40 per cent in domestic emissions by 2020 across all industrialised countries, with further emissions cuts being funded in developing countries.

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Notes to Editors:

For more information or interviews contact Judith Melby on +44 (0)20 7523 2408 or jmelby@christian-aid.org

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in more than 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

2. To take the Copenhagen Pledge and lobby the UK government and European Parliament  for a  fair climate deal for poor countries visit www.christian-aid.org.uk

3. To read more about Christian Aid’s vision of international climate justice for the poor visit www.christian–aid.org.uk

4. Christian Aid is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, the UK’s largest climate change campaigning group representing more than 80 organisations with a supporter base of 4 million plus.