Science & the Environment

Renewable energies: Is the EU’s global warming policy all wrong?

19 July 2010
The Daily Telegraph London

Wind turbines in County Waterford, Ireland.

Wind turbines in County Waterford, Ireland.

The EU's 20/20/20 policy, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, will cost billions but be of very little benefit in the fight against climate change, argues Bjørn Lomborg.

European leaders have a lot to deal with. The financial crisis has prompted several national stimulus packages and a joint effort to keep Greece afloat, while the EU is in danger of being outstripped by other economies that are growing faster, producing more efficiently and at lower costs.

One bright spot is that politicians remain committed to responding to global warming. Unfortunately, their plans do not withstand scrutiny. New research shows that the EU's "20/20/20" policy, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 (and ensure 20 per cent renewable energy), will cost hundreds of billions of euros but yield only tiny benefits. The UK alone will be hit to the tune of an annual 35 billion euros (£28 billion).

As a cost-benefit analysis by the climate-change economist Richard Tol shows, any single regional carbon-reduction scheme will have a very small effect on emissions and temperature rises across the globe. That's not an argument against ever implementing one: but it means that it's crucial that the numbers stack up.

The EU recently stated that it would cost £39 billion a year to meet its emissions target. That figure is implausibly optimistic. Averaging out the best-regarded economic models shows that, even if politicians got their policies exactly right, the cost would come to at least £90 billion a year. Read full article in The Daily Telegraph...