Sunday, October 26, 2008

EU ’s Environmental Commitment: A Breath of Fresh Air?

Despite the daunting global financial crisis, the European Union pledges to stick with their plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions to combat global warming. Will they make it?

By: Ringo Bones

Maybe it was during 2007 when German Chancellor Angela Merkel proverbially sticking to her guns by proposing stricter emission and fuel economy quotas on cars manufactured in the European Union despite of the extremely limited legislative powers posed by such laws. Luckily, not only being green became “unexpectedly fashionable” throughout the EU for the rest of 2007. But the world’s most famous environmentalist Al “An Inconvenient Truth” Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, further reinforcing the link between global climate stability with global political stability.

When the Credit Crunch finally reared it’s ugly head throughout Europe after slowly devastating the US economy since it’s start near the end of July 2007. Many nations around the world similarly affected by the credit crunch began to wonder if they could keep to their commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Especially since renewable energy systems are currently still very expensive due to the low volume of production. But during their meeting on how to tackle the global economic crisis brought about by the US credit crunch, EU leaders surprisingly reached a consensus to stick with their previous commitments on gradually reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by introducing the wide scale use of renewable energy systems. By not conceding to abandon their pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the EU is indeed sending a message throughout the world of their leadership role in tackling climate change.

Though the environmental movement for a cleaner industry started in the United States, even the spin-off of the Sierra Club called Blue Green Alliance has been promoting environmentally friendly industries that provide jobs for blue collar workers. Like the United Steelworkers – the largest industrial union in North America - back in June 2006. The Blue Green Alliance managed to thrive despite of the Bush Administration’s anti-environment Neo-Conservatives running the government and fiercely lobbying at Capitol Hill only for their own interests.

To me, this is quite a “breath of fresh air” both figuratively and literally. Given that the Bush Administration was unabashedly pro crude oil when it comes to their energy policy. Even their energy independence plans are still crude oil lobbyist driven. For the European Union to pursue the more Earth-friendly path of renewable energy – despite of the high initial cost – is really commendable. Looks like the moral ability to lead has now moved on to the EU. Will the next US administration prove better when it comes to legislating laws that would protect the world’s environment?

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