Public Radio: Why Should U.S. Adopt 'Failure' of E.U. Carbon Reduction Plans?

     Should the United States put its faith in a carbon reduction plan that does not work?

     That was the question American Public Media (APM) asked in coverage of the European Union’s energy summit March 8.

     Host Scott Jagow asked “why would the U.S. or any other country go along” with the E.U.’s carbon reduction plan if there is “so much skepticism about whether they can actually do it.”

     European correspondent Stephen Beard added, “We’ve had already so many examples of performance falling well short of promise” from the European Union’s emission’s trading system.

     Before the energy summit in Brussels, Belgium, E.U. Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs conceded that putting a price on carbon was a failure. The March 8 APM Marketplace report, entitled “Climate pressure building in Europe,” highlighted the negative effect of the E.U.’s failed reduction plan on businesses and what it could mean for U.S. cooperation.

     Beard also admitted, “Cutting greenhouse gases is going to involve some economic pain,” and the E.U. has not figured out which sectors are going to get hit the hardest.

     The E.U., according to the article, wants to cut carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020.  Furthermore, Reuters reports that if larger industrialized nations like the U.S. get involved, the figure could balloon to 30 percent.

     It wouldn’t be the first time Piebalgs admitted E.U. carbon reduction systems have not worked.  In a February 7 speech at the European People’s Party seminar entitled “Europe's Energy Challenges,” Piebalgs admitted, “So far, the present [carbon reduction] rules and measures have not yet achieved our objectives.”

     Despite Piebalgs’ concession, European Commission President Jose Barroso was quoted in an interview with Bloomberg yesterday saying that cutting emissions is “good for European competitiveness” and that Europe was “now in a transition to a low-carbon economy” with “clear advantages for the first movers.”

     The U.S. Ambassador to the E.U., John Bruton, explained in the February 10 issue of The Independent that Europe is having so much trouble with its emissions trading system because member states know if they adopt the Commission’s standards they will loose business to countries where there are lower costs to produce the same products. 

     Bruton further stated that even if the U.S. were to adopt European standards, without China and India it would “just be to ship these jobs to where there are no costs.”