The European Commission argues that the cost of meeting the EU's current 2020 emission reduction target have fallen by nearly a third in the wake of the economic downturn. This would make raising the target to 30% affordable.
"Whether to increase our reduction target for 2020 from 20% to 30% is a political decision for the EU leaders to take when the timing and the conditions are right. Obviously the immediate political priority is to handle the crisis. But as we exit the crisis, the Commission has now provided input for a fact-based discussion," said Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.
BusinessEurope, the European business lobby, argues that climate change can only be tackled globally.
"We are [...] convinced that any further increase of the EU's unilateral 20% emission reduction target at this point in time would be unlikely to convince other nations to adopt comparable targets. Furthermore, it would send the wrong signal to European industry in times of economic crisis," said Jürgen R. Thumann, BusinessEurope's president.
The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a Brussels-based think-tank, argues that the legal form of a future climate treaty, whether a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol or a single legally-binding agreement, may have little impact on whether countries meet their targets under it.
"As far as the pledges are hooked to an international accord on the one hand, and substantiated in domestic legislation on the other – not necessarily legally binding in domestic law but enforceable with sufficient resources available – they could increase the credibility of the parties' commitments," it said in a policy brief.
Oxfam advocates ensuring that any climate aid to developing countries is additional to existing development aid commitments and comes from public sources.
"Only public funding can reach the most vulnerable communities struggling to adapt to climate change, and help poor countries adopt low carbon growth strategies," said David Waskow, climate change advisor for Oxfam. "And governments must make sure this funding is additional to existing aid targets – poor countries should not be forced to choose between building flood defences and building schools."
The Climate Policy Tracker by Green group WWF and consultancy Ecofys found that on average, EU countries need to intensify their efforts by a factor of three to reduce emissions 80-95% by 2050 as as required by science.
"There are success stories in each country and policymakers should learn from best practices across Europe. Overall, however, the ratings are low. Support for renewable energy is most widely implemented across Europe and shows the most progress, whilst energy efficiency, transport and industry are lagging behind," said Niklas Höhne, director of energy and climate policy at Ecofys.