US climate campaigner Al Gore has defended the EU's controversial new climate targets as an encouraging step in the battle against global warming.
At a discussion in Davos today Mr Gore said he was optimistic that the world was getting closer to a political tipping point on climate change but was not there yet. Growth in extreme weather around the globe was, he said, was focusing minds on the consequences of "putting 90 milllion tonnes of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every day as if it is an open sewer".
“That is why our oceans are warmer, our floods are deeper and our ice is melting,” he said.
This week the European Commission presented a new climate targets that the the EU should reach a CO2 emissions level of 40 per cent from 1990 levels.
Beyond that the commission rolled back its individual renewable energy targets for member states in favour of a general EU target.
Climate campaigners have complained that business concerns about the impact on competitivenss influenced a scaling back of the terms of the new plan. The commission has described the plan as “ambitious and affordable”. Mr Gore said he found the criticism unfair, pointing to the plan’s binding emissions target.
“I am actually encouraged by what the EU has done and I think they have gotten unfair criticism,” said Mr Gore at a Davos climate discussion. “I think we have to wait and see how the enforcement mechanism is arrived at and designed.”
UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon agreed with Mr Gore that the EU move deserved support and that Europe had set the ball rolling on a new global climate change agreement.
Ahead of the UN climate meeting in September in Peru, he called on EU leaders to push for the new EU climate policy to be binding - in Europe and worldwide.
“This should be emulated by many countries in the world and leaders’ commitement should be substantial, measurable and replicable,” he said.