* EU exec to launch cost-benefit analysis of 30 pct CO2 cut
* Traditional heavy industry unites against deeper cuts
* EU green industry fears Asian rivals could forge ahead
By Pete Harrison
BRUSSELS, May 25 European green technology
companies warn that failing to toughen up European Union climate
targets will play into the hands of rivals in Asia.
Traditional heavy industry has successfully fought off the
prospect of deeper European emissions curbs since U.N. talks
ended in stalemate in Copenhagen last December.
Since then, climate issues have dropped down the agenda as
EU governments struggle to contain the debt crisis.
European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard will seek to
regain the initiative on Wednesday by launching a cost-benefit
analysis of deepening EU emissions cuts to 30 percent from the
current 20 percent target.
But heavy industry has already launched a pre-emptive
attack, uniting against deeper emissions cuts.
The economic crisis may have made such a move cheaper by
eroding the price of carbon emissions permits, but it has also
left companies too weak to make the required investment, they
Their argument appears to have already been won, with
successive drafts of Hedegaard's paper toning down any hint of a
German economy minister Rainer Bruederle said on Tuesday
more time was needed to get past the worst of the economic
"At such a moment, it is legitimate to owe oneself more
time," he told reporters.
But Europe's nascent green industries are keen to point out
they are not the same as traditional sectors such as steel and
cement -- and sticking with the current 20 percent could slow
"If we stick with 20 percent, there will be fewer incentives
for innovation," said Niklas Hoehne of green consultancy Ecofys.
Some EU officials fear that internal wrangling will play
into the hands of China, which they suspect is stalling a global
climate deal until its green industry is positioned to dominate
world green tech markets.
Christian Kjaer, chief executive of the European Wind Energy
Association, shares those fears.
"It is a battle between nations, and delaying an
international and legally binding agreement on greenhouse gas
reductions could help efforts to overtake Europe," he said.
"Europe invented the Internet and left it for foreign companies
to reap the commercial benefits. I would hate to see a similar
development in wind energy."
China aims to be the leading producer of electric vehicles
by 2015, says Better Place, which is working on electric car
infrastructure in Israel and Denmark.
"As a result, they've set an aggressive industrial policy,
which is quickly rallying the supply chain to come together,"
said Joe Paluska of Better Place. "China sees electric cars as a
way to leapfrog the rest of the world for the future of clean
But BusinessEurope, which represents 20 million EU
companies, says that tough emissions targets and heavy carbon
costs may not be the best route.
Both China and the United States have managed to spur green
growth without them, said BusinessEurope's Folker Franz.
"Support for green tech -- yes," he said. "But not out of
the pockets of energy users, which have already been hit hard by
the economic crisis. Instead, increase the investment in
research and development."
(Additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach and Julien Toyer,
writing by Pete Harrison; Editing by Amanda Cooper)