Wednesday, 23 January 2008

EU Announces Climate Change Strategy

The European Commission has announced its plans to attack climate change. At the heart of the proposals is the already agreed plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% (from the 1990 levels) by 2020 – a figure that could be increased to 30% with international agreement. Alongside that is the requirement for 20% of all energy use to be supplied by renewable sources, i.e. wind, solar, etc. Some of this is already done, with emissions down by 6% on the 1990 level and renewable energy running at 8.5% in Europe.

Binding national targets will be related to GDP, so the larger countries will have the biggest challenge. However, the less developed countries in central and eastern Europe will still have some leeway to increase emissions to catch up with western Europe levels of development.

One element of the proposals is to update the Emissions Trading System (ETS). From 2013 energy-intensive industries will have to pay for the right to emit greenhouse gases, rather than receiving free permits, as they do now. The power sector will be the first to have to pay for emissions, with others to follow.

The announcement seems to have received a generally favourable reception, although the proposal that 10% of renewables should be biofuel is controversial, but the overall package has yet to be approved by the 27 EU countries.

The announcements takes the European economies further along the path to carbon pricing and an industry sector focus. It is this clear financial incentive to reduce the carbon footprint that will concentrate minds over the next few years. Since virtually all parts of any company’s operations has an energy implication, a lot of thought will be going into where and how savings can be made.

This is all fertile ground for IT. Services companies need to be developing consulting offerings and industry solutions now. With demand likely to be more urgent in Europe, local IT services companies could gain a march over their global rivals, but from what I’ve seen so far the reverse is the case.

© The Green IT Review

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