‘Ambitious’ emissions cuts to be sought
NEW YORK — At the United Nations Climate Summit, which begins Tuesday, the European Commission will formally recommend a 40 percent cut in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 for its 28 member countries, its president said on Monday.
“It’s ambitious, but I believe it’s achievable,” EC President Jose Manuel Barroso said. He said he’s confident that Europe’s countries, which have been slashing emissions, will approve this new reduction — from 1990 levels — at a meeting next month.
Leaders of more than 120 countries, including President Obama, will announce efforts to fight global warming — as will many major companies — at what’s expected to be the largest climate meeting ever. Their pledges aim to build momentum for a global climate accord to be announced next year during U.N. climate talks in Paris.
The one-day summit, preceded by a historic march that drew tens of thousands of climate activists to Manhattan streets on Sunday, occurs as scientists report that global greenhouse gas emissions rose 2.3 percent last year to record levels. In the United States, despite several recent years of decline, they rose 2.9 percent.
“This is an enormous challenge. And this is why the United States is prepared to take the lead in order to bring other nations to the table,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday, committing to make it “front and center in all of our diplomatic efforts.” He said cutting carbon emissions is a “win-win-win,” because it delivers health and other benefits.
Corporate leaders made the same pitch. “If you innovate and set the bar high, you can do both,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at a climate event, referring to profits and sustainability. “We need to be a pebble in the pond that creates the ripple,” he said, noting that renewable energy powers 94 percent of Apple’s corporate facilities worldwide.
“They’re good business decisions,” said Jose Lopez, head of Nestle’s global operations, about the company’s halving of factory emissions in the last 10 years and its efforts to ensure products don’t originate from illegally deforested land. Citing water scarcity in Mexico, he said Nestle is opening its first dairy factory there next month that will use water extracted from milk to cover operations.
“We need to find solutions, because we need to continue to feed the planet,” Lopez said. What’s different now, he said, is that his company — like others — is sharing its experiences and working with U.N. officials and non-governmental groups. “Silos are falling down,” he said.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced that a thousand companies and 73 countries — including China, Russia and the European Union — support putting a price or tax on fossil fuels to boost investments in cleaner energy. “Today, we see real momentum,” he said, noting the governments represent almost half the world’s population.
Barroso said the EU, which his commission represents, is on track to meet its earlier pledge of cutting its 1990 carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020. He said it has done so while growing its economies, proving it’s possible to do both. He outlined the new 40 percent cut earlier this year and is putting it forward for an EU vote. He spoke at the New York Stock Exchange shortly after ringing the trading bell.
Still, he said the EU’s emissions now account for only 11 percent of global ones, so the world’s biggest polluters — China, the United States and India — need to step up to the plate.
“President Obama’s plan clearly goes in the right direction,” B–arroso said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal in June to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants 30 percent — from 2005 levels — by 2030. Obama has boosted fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.