The EU must harness its energy, transport and agriculture policies to cut CO2 emissions - and improve its Emissions Trading System (ETS) – to make the economy more competitive and dramatically less dependent on fossil fuels by 2050, says a non-binding resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Thursday.

Parliament broadly supports the European Commission's ‘Roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy’, which sets a policy framework for the European Union to achieve an 80-95% reduction in its CO2 emissions by 2050. The Roadmap sets out ‘milestones’ to reduce CO2 by at least 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050.

Following their previous calls to increase the EU's 20% emissions reduction target for 2020, this resolution warns that the current short-term goal is "not on a cost-efficient pathway" to deeper cuts that must be made in light of climate change.

"The more we do now the easier it will be in the future. Either we take a lead in promoting a low carbon economy or we get left behind. This is an opportunity to promote investment and stimulate technological innovation. It will leave Europe stronger not weaker." said Chris Davies (ALDE, UK) after his report was adopted with 398 votes in favour and 132 against.

Emissions trading

MEPs recognise the ETS as the EU's main instrument to reduce industrial emissions and to help green investment they call for improvements, such as a possible ‘set aside’ of pollution permits unused following a slowing of economies following the crisis which took hold from Q3 2008.

Energy efficiency and renewables

MEPs welcome the draft Energy Efficiency Directive, which aims to get the EU on track to meet its target to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2020. The resolution notes the need to ‘decarbonise’ power generation and says binding renewable energy targets should be proposed for 2030.

Agriculture and transport

MEPs ask the Commission to propose specific measures to reduce emissions from agriculture. They also support accounting measures and targets for other land use, affecting issues such as sustainable biofuels production and forestry.

The EU Parliament also backs the Commission's transport roadmap aim to cut transport emissions by 60% by 2050. They say the Commission must press ahead and propose legislation to curb shipping emissions in the EU if there continues to be no international agreement to do so.

Legislation to include aviation emissions in the ETS - opposed by some countries outside the EU - should be implemented in full, they add.

Source European Parliament