”It is not going to be easy to reconstruct [the climate directorate-general],” Hedegaard admitted. “Climate can be almost anything,” she said, giving examples of overlaps between areas as diverse as industry, development and research on top of the obvious links between environment and energy. But the Dane said it would not be possible to put everything under one DG. “Therefore you must do it the other way around by mainstreaming,” she said. Hedegaard pledged to work closely with other commissioners, saying legislative initiatives would often be triggered in conjunction with them. But she admitted that it would be “a bit of a fight” to push other commissioners with their own priorities to make room for a climate dimension in their portfolios. “Climate, energy security and job creation must be the EU’s vision,” she stressed.
Regarding the progress which could be made on the climate change agenda, Ms Hedegaard noted that the EU already had energy efficiency and emission reduction targets and said “the challenge for the next five years is to implement them“. However, the EU could nonetheless do more to reduce emissions from road transport, adding that she would table an integrated legislative package on climate and transport during her mandate. The legislative package, akin to that on energy and climate change agreed in 2008, would include initiatives to rein in growing emissions from transport, Hedegaard said.
She spoke of the “huge challenge” facing the sector as continued growth in carbon emissions from transport is currently offseting efforts made in other areas. One of the new climate commissioner’s first initiatives will be to introduce legislation on cutting CO2 emissions from lorries. She said she would also seek to revise EU legislation on CO2 emissions from cars, which she said is outdated considering the speed at which technology is moving.
In general, the future climate commissioner supported pricing CO2 emissions in the transport sector. In her opinion, “internalising externalities,” which has been a guiding principle of the EU’s emissions trading scheme, would also work for transport. In response to Kartika Liotard (GUE/NGL) Ms Hedegaard’s declared that “in my universe, nuclear (energy) is not a renewable resource“, but acknowledged that “the policy for a long time in the EU has been that the energy mix will be up to the countries themselves“. She had “no doubt” that nuclear energy “will also be in the world for many years“, and said that the highest priority must therefore be given to safety. Asked by Satu Hassi (Greens/EFA), whether she would be tough “towards the most polluting form of power production – coal power“, Ms Hedegaard pointed out that coal power plants are already part of the ETS. As regards setting CO2 emission performance standards for power stations, “we should wait and see whether the CCS technology actually works“, she said. She also expressed her disappointment on the fact that the COP15 had not delivered binding targets during her three-hour hearing in the European Parliament on Friday (15 January), but stressed that “a lot has changed in the last few years” and that the EU “had played a tremendously important role in paving the way for change“.
She underlined that despite the lack of a binding agreement, COP 15 had delivered commitments on funding and an agreement to keep temperature rises below 2° C, to which both developed countries and emerging economies subscribed. “It is a bit tough to blame those who worked most to achieve a turnaround for the global climate, for those who in the end chose not to deliver,” she said in reply to critical questions from Chris Davies (ALDE, UK). She also stressed that the EU should continue to push other countries to set more ambitious targets. Asked by Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL) about plans to step up the EU emission reduction target from 20% to 30% (by 2020, from 1990 levels), she said that this should be done as soon as possible, but in a way that would encourage other countries to go further, too.
*publicado em EHA