A package of legislation was presented by the European Commission in January 2008 that heralds the beginning of a new era in Europe’s relationship with energy. From now on the consideration of climate impacts can no longer be separated from economic and political energy choices.
Research shows that the benefits of avoiding dangerous climate change will more than outweigh the costs of doing so – although there will still be costs. While the challenge presented by this legislation may seem daunting, it should not be argued in terms of the old paradigms of short-term and self-interested gains and losses. Rather, we need to harness the policy tools, behavioural and technology changes at our disposal to achieve significant emission reductions now, in recognition that yet deeper cuts will be needed later – creating efficient and creative responses now will make this possible.