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By Tim Montgomerie
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I ask the question because MEPs have just rejected increasing the EU's emission reduction targets unilaterally from 20% by 2020 to an eyewatering 30% by 2020 (the reduction is from 1990 levels). Votes from Tory MEPs made the difference.
The British Government – like the governments of France and Germany – had supported the commitment to deeper cuts but MEPs from the EPP and our own ECR had opposed unilateral action on the basis that the EU acting alone would mean we would continue to export industrial capacity to developing countries which weren't willing to sign up to such controls.
Martin Callanan MEP, leader of Conservative MEPs told ConservativeHome:
"Conservative MEPs voted for a 30% EU target, "provided that conditions are right". We remain opposed to a unilateral EU increase, without other industrial nations, because of the effect on competiveness of UK and EU companies."
That "conditions are right" clause is crucial. Unless China, India and other competitor economies are willing to sign up to verifiable cuts in their own carbon footprints the realists – including our own MEPs and many from, for example, Poland – are not going to handicap European manufacturers.
ConHome's surveys of Tory candidates show that our MPs are probably as sceptical about going alone on climate change as our MEPs but whipped by the Coalition they are under more pressure not to say so.
By way of footnote, over at LibDemVoice Chris Davies MEP is complaining that Tory MEPs weren't willing to back the Huhne/Coalition line that unilateral 30% cuts were essential. Mr Davies should reflect on his own support for the end of Britain's EU rebate and for new EU taxes before he complains about anyone else's failure to support Coalition policy.