Europe’s economy needs a 30% climate target and a clean industrial revolution to stay competitive

11 February 2011

London, 11 February 2011: Yesterday in a speech at King’s College, EU Energy commissioner Günther Oettinger argued against Europe increasing its ambition to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, from the current 20 per cent. Fiona Harvey in The Guardian reported Mr Oettinger’s fears that increasing the European target could lead to a “too-fast process of de-industrialisation” and see some energy-intensive industries relocating to China. He also said that EU business should prepare for higher oil prices.

The comments come as China prepares to announce its 12th five Year Plan next month which is expected to put green growth at the heart of its national economic development strategy.

Responding to Mr Oettinger’s comments, Mark Kenber CEO of The Climate Group says: “Now is no time for Europe’s leaders to have a crisis of confidence or present false choices. The EU businesses we work with want a 30 per cent carbon reduction target to boost Europe’s share of the €3.5 trillion global market for low carbon goods and services. Business understands there is no such thing as a high-carbon, low cost future for them in Europe or anywhere else. Europe’s economy needs a clean industrial revolution to stay competitive, to cut emissions, and to boost growth and jobs.”

In October 2010, 30 companies supported a joint business declaration led by The Climate Group, University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and WWF Climate Savers calling for Europe to increase its climate ambition to boost jobs and growth. The companies include Acciona, Alstom, Asda, Atkins, Barilla, BNP Paribas, BSkyB, Capgemini, Centrica plc, Climate Change Capital, Crédit Agricole, DHV Group, Elopak, Eneco, F&C Asset Management, GE Energy, Johnson Controls Inc, Kingfisher, Google, Marks and Spencer, Nike, Philips Lighting, SKAI Group of Companies, Sony Europe, SPIE, Standard Life, Swiss Re, Tryg, Thames Water, Unilever and Vodafone.

Alain Grisay, CEO of F&C Asset Management said at the time: “A 30 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target sends an unambiguous message that will mobilize capital and spur real growth in the low carbon economy.”

Ian Cheshire, Group CEO for Kingfisher plc also said “a 30 per cent target will be good for the EU economy and it’s good for the future sustainability of business.”

Evidence supporting Europe’s ‘green growth’ opportunity is mounting. The value of the global market in low carbon goods and services is already over £3 trillion and growing at 4 per cent per year, faster than world GDP. Chris Huhne, the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said recently “in budgetary hard times, growth like this is hard to come by. And it is even harder to ignore.”

Emerging economies are not ignoring the economic opportunities presented by the global market, with countries such as China, South Korea and Mexico taking the lead in new clean energy technology and infrastructure investment. A report by Ernst & Young says that in the second quarter of 2010, China spent $10bn on wind energy alone; around half the global total. Another report from E3G suggests that China will out-invest the EU over the next decade in critical clean energy infrastructure and technology.


The Climate Group ( is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working internationally with government and business leaders to advance the smart policies and technologies needed to cut global emissions and unlock a clean industrial revolution.  Its global coalition of companies, states, regions and cities around the world recognise the economic and environmental imperatives of taking decisive action now. The Climate Group was founded in 2004 and has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India and North America.

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