Smith Anger at EU Hot Air on Climate Change

12 December 2008
SNP Member of the European Parliament for Scotland Mr Alyn Smith has expressed his dismay at the compromise reached today by EU leaders in the European Council on the climate change package.

The deal, compromising five different legislative files including the revised EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the Renewable Energy Directive, is designed to implement the headline targets Europe has set itself on energy use - a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2020, with a 20% of renewable sources of energy by 2020. However, the agreement reached sees a much watered down plan for reducing emissions.

Speaking after the European Council meeting in Brussels, Smith said:

"European leaders had a real chance today to take serious action in the fight against climate change, but they blew it. The deal reached on the revised EU Emission Trading Scheme shows that nothing has been learned from the first phase of ETS, and it has the potential to hinder our chances of reaching the 20-20-20 targets by 2020.

"Too many free allowances have been handed out to polluting industries and power companies, creating the potential for windfall profits, and undermining the long term strategy of the ETS, which is to raise the price of carbon through auctioning and trading, thus making renewable sources of energy commercially competitive. I am also disappointed at the resulting reduction in auction revenues available to invest in zero carbon technology and energy efficiency. By increasing the percentage of the target that can be achieved through overseas projects, Europe absolves itself of its historic responsibilities to take the lead in emissions reductions.

"Scotland is already ahead of the curve on climate change. With the publication last week of the Scottish Government's ambitious Climate Change Bill, Scotland is well and truly leading Europe and the rest of the world. It is clearly the case that other Member States are not matching their climate change commitments."

Smith had kinder words for the compromise deal reached on the EU's plans for boosting renewable energy across Europe:

"I believe that Scotland's massive potential in offshore wind, wave, tidal, biomass, and other forms of clean green energy, will receive a major boost from the compromise reached this week. The proposed renewable energy Directive sets a legal basis for the promotion of renewable energy, and sets binding national targets for the use of this energy. Most importantly, it promises the coordination of European finances and resources to invest in continentally important renewable infrastructure, like the proposed "supergrid" for marine energy under the North Sea. Crucially, renewable sources of energy are promised "priority" access to the electricity grid. We have also achieved a clearer path to promoting energy efficiency in our building stock, as well as retrofitting our buildings with biomass based district heating and cooling systems. The public sector will also lead the way in the innovative use of renewable sources of energy, such as solar panels on rooftops.

"Unfortunately we failed to eliminate the wrongheaded target for biofuels given the extent of opposition. Still, we have watered down the target with the promise of the use of electric vehicles and waste materials, as well as biofuels, to contribute, and the target will be comprehensively reviewed in 2014.

"I can't stress enough the negative consequences of a poor deal. The implications are not just for the environment. Scotland and Europe risk missing out on the tremendous economic opportunities available through investment in green technology - in energy production, in vehicle manufacturing and in agriculture, to name but just three sectors.

"Next week the European Parliament in Strasbourg will get its say on the green energy and climate change package. I can only hope that we have the chance to rectify some of the mistakes that were made today."