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Call for sharper EU carbon cuts
Over 70 European companies have signed up to a declaration calling on the European Union to increase its climate ambition and move to a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 from 1990 levels.

The call comes ahead of the EU Environment Council (21 June) and the European Parliament’s vote on moving beyond the existing 20% target (23 June). The businesses call on the EU to adopt a 30% emissions reduction target to preserve the European Union’s competitiveness, and build a low-carbon economy.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne welcomed the call, saying: “More and more businesses now realise that Europe’s future prosperity lies in a low carbon economy. There is a danger that the current lack of resolve from the EU will put a brake on the growth aspirations of some of Europe’s biggest firms.

“Backing from major corporations such as Ikea, Coca Cola and M&S will put greater pressure on the EU to raise its emissions reduction target to 30% and to establish clear incentives for low carbon growth as soon as possible.”

Together the signatories of the call account for more than 3.8 million employees with an annual turnover of more than €1 trillion, a sum bigger than the combined GDPs of Poland, Sweden and Austria. The number of signatories to the declaration has more than doubled in recent months, highlighting the urgent need for policy makers to commit to the higher target.

The companies are calling for a European policy framework that will spur innovation and investment, notably in renewables and energy efficiency, to ensure European energy security. Research shows that by increasing the target, imports of oil and gas could be reduced by €45.5 billion in 2020, and energy efficiency and renewable energy sources could decrease the economy’s import dependency and vulnerability to fossil fuel prices even further – the reduction in the oil and gas import bill could amount to €600 billion or more per annum by 2050.

The 72 signatories also say that an increased climate ambition will contribute to the creation of new green jobs, both directly and indirectly. Overall, a stronger policy framework could result in a net increase of 6 million European jobs by 2020.

Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said: “Politicians across Europe must listen to this clear message from forward thinking businesses, who know that a stronger policy framework will be in their interest because of the investments and opportunities it can unlock.

“Sticking with the current EU 20% target would simply perpetuate a cycle of low ambition that will inevitably lead to dangerous climate change. The 30% target is a no-regrets position for Europe’s economy, and it is logical to move to it now.”