As winter storms and floods continue to affect the region, South West Green Party are joining Greens in Europe in calling for more ambitious European targets on CO2 emissions, renewable energy generation and energy efficiency.
After lengthy discussions the European Commission has put forward Europe- wide targets on tackling climate change that include a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions and 27% of energy generation from renewable sources by 2030, based on 1990 levels .
Professor Molly Scott Cato, who is campaigning to be elected to the European Parliament in May as the South West’s first Green MEP, says the targets put forward by the European Commission to tackle climate change must be more ambitious and should include a target on improving energy efficiency, which is being demanded by the Green Group in the European Parliament.
"These targets just don’t go far enough. Greens believe we need to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2030 – and to do that we'll need to generate at least 45% of our electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and tidal. Most disappointing of all is the absence of the single measure that would do most to cut domestic energy bills, tackle climate change and create jobs all at the same time - improving insulation in the UK’s housing stock. Even the Boss of NPower, the company, ironically, that lobbied government to reduce green levies used to insulate homes, has admitted that high energy bills in the UK are largely due to leaky and draughty housing stock ."
Dr Scott Cato believes that the winter weather witnessed this year in the South West demonstrates the urgency of tackling climate change, locally, nationally and internationally.
"The storms and floods affecting the region this winter are examples of weather, not climate. However, the increasing severity of extreme weather events throughout the world is precisely what climate scientists have been predicting for decades. We also know that sea levels are rising and that this will make storm surges far more damaging.
"At the local level we need to move towards farming methods that are carbon neutral or even carbon negative. For example, pasture acts to ‘sink’ carbon in the ground while also reducing the need for imported animal feed and growing food crops for local markets cuts out unnecessary long distance transport. Planting more trees is also a natural and quick way of capturing carbon from the atmosphere and trees also act as natural flood defences.
"At national level we need a rapid expansion in the country's capacity for renewable energy generation. A simplified feed in tariff mechanism that clearly gives higher rates for electricity generated by all community owned installations would help. In Germany and Denmark this policy has resulted in a rapid expansion of renewable capacity owned by communities, bringing them huge economic benefit".
The proposals on tackling climate change put forward by the European Commission will be considered by MEPs in the European Parliament next month when Greens will continue to press for more ambitious targets.
 Guardian article: EU to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030
 NPower boss talking on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme 22.01.14 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03q96bz 1.32 minutes in