Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Just How Low Can We Go? Manufacturing Output Is Down across Europe - So Is This the Best Chance We Have of Ramping Up Carbon Cuts or Will the Bar Be Impossibly High? Environment Reporter KELLEY PRICE Speaks to the North-East MEP in Support of a Proposed 30% Carbon Reduction Target and a Teesside Manufacturer Opposed to It

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Just How Low Can We Go? Manufacturing Output Is Down across Europe - So Is This the Best Chance We Have of Ramping Up Carbon Cuts or Will the Bar Be Impossibly High? Environment Reporter KELLEY PRICE Speaks to the North-East MEP in Support of a Proposed 30% Carbon Reduction Target and a Teesside Manufacturer Opposed to It

Article excerpt

Byline: KELLEY PRICE

'AIM for the stars and you might just reach the ozone layer' seems to be the EU's mantra on carbon cuts.

Ambitious recommendations to ramp up carbon reduction goals from 20% to 30% are by far the highest in the world.

Whether they are realistic is a different matter.

For Connie Hedegaard, the European climate commissioner, a big hike may be the only way to boost the stubbornly low carbon price - on which many new technologies depend on a more realistic value for their widespread adoption - and drive forward some much-needed green investment.

Fans of the move say now's the time - with production still low as Europe recovers from recession, an extra 10% in cuts will be easier and cheaper to achieve than ever, they argue, while also indicating to the rest of the world that Europe is on message.

But manufacturers on Teesside fear the rise will stretch their budgets even further and encourage carbon leakage - companies switching production to foreign shores unrestricted by such heavy emissions laws.

Whose side are you on? We'd like to hear the views of manufacturers on Teesside. Log on to nebusiness.co.uk to add your comments to the debate.

FOR Who: Fiona Hall, MEP What: Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament and lead campaigner on environmental issues Quote: "Energy prices are going up, therefore a stick, rather than carrot, approach is ultimately very helpful for companies."

NORTH-east Lib Dem MEP Fiona Hall says an increase is achievable mainly by companies bringing in low-cost efficiency savings.

"Now is a good time," she insists. "Had we not had the recession, Europe-wide production would have increased, we would have had higher carbon emissions and 30% would have represented a bigger cut. At the moment, that gap isn't as great.

"The North-east is busy developing low-carbon technologies. It's very helpful to have the whole of Europe focused on that.

"Companies need a strong, unwavering signal on this. A 10% rise will keep people focused on low-carbon. With so little money going around, it's easy to take our eye off the ball."

Most of the cuts, she claims, could be achieved by companies making low or no-cost efficiency cuts.

Hedegaard, she adds, points to the potential of efficiency cuts in her communication document on the carbon reduction plans, and back in 2008, former Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: "In context of high oil prices, energy efficiency is the most immediate and cost-effective manner to achieve the goals of sustainability and security of energy supply, as well as competitiveness."

"Energy prices are going up," says Mrs Hall, "therefore a stick, rather than carrot, approach is ultimately very helpful for companies. They don't need to spend much money, yet they're likely to be quids in. …

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