'Tackling climate change does not mean killing economic growth'

04 November 2015

© Oxford Martin School

Dr Jos Delbeke, the European Commission’s Director-General for Climate Action, shared insights into climate policy making when he visited the Oxford Martin School on 3 November for a roundtable discussion with academics and a public lecture.

Opening the roundtable, Dr Delbeke said that there was “no magic bullet” for tackling greenhouse gas emissions, which he said were intertwined with every aspect of people’s lives, from transport to industrial goods. But he pointed to achievements such as the reduction in emissions by 25 per cent compared to levels in 1990, against a backdrop of 45 per cent growth in GDP, and the launch of the Emissions Trading System (ETS), saying: “The ETS scheme covers half of the emissions of the EU; a tonne of carbon has a price. It’s a cost-effective approach to things.”

He said Europe had a “strong story to tell” at the forthcoming UN climate negotiations in Paris, and could show that cutting emissions did not mean killing economic growth. But he said that Europe was only a small part of solving the climate change problem, and that a deal would not be meaningful without China and other emerging economies being a part of it. And while 90 per cent of countries had submitted pledges to reduce emissions, the difficult task of following pledges through with action now lay ahead, he added.

Academics from the Oxford Martin School, the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and the Blavatnik School of Government discussed a wide range of issues with Dr Delbeke, including carbon capture and storage, reviewing climate change pledges, transparency in policy making and the need for more powerful computing for modelling the impacts of climate change.