The EU should focus on meeting its current proposed 2030 climate and energy goals until a worldwide stocktake of climate pledges in 2018, the European Commission said on Wednesday, disappointing environmental campaigners who say the bloc’s CO2 reduction aim falls short of globally-agreed commitments.
The widely-expected view was set out in a document released by the Commission to guide EU environment ministers on Mar. 4 and a session of EU leaders on Mar. 17-18. Both meetings will examine whether to revisit the EU goals in the wake of December’s Paris Agreement.
The Commission said it would provide input to a report by UN-backed scientists at the IPCC due in 2018 on achieving the “well below 2C” and efforts towards 1.5C temperature goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.
“By 2020, all countries should communicate their mid-century, long-term decarbonisation strategies. To facilitate the preparation of the EU’s strategy, the Commission will prepare an in-depth analysis of the economic and social transformations in order to feed the political debate in the European Parliament, Council and with stakeholders,” it said.
“We have the deal. Now we need to make it real. For the EU, this means completing the 2030 climate and energy legislation without delay, signing and ratifying the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, and continuing our leadership in the global transition to a low-carbon future,” said the EU’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.
Commission officials have been briefing lawmakers that the EU’s 2030 GHG target could not easily be altered to fit deeper global aspirations, despite being aware that its proposed reforms to the EU ETS won’t keep pace with current UN obligations regarding worldwide temperature limits.
“The EU needs to reassess its climate and energy targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050. The EU has promised to increase its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target to 30% if there is global action on climate change; this condition has now been met … This would clearly mean upping the ambition of its 2030 target to reduce emissions by 40%,” said Green MEP Bas Eickhout.
Environmental campaigners Greenpeace said not moving to a deeper 2030 goal would mean the European Commission has broken its pledge to bring EU climate targets in line with the Paris climate deal.
“The Commission must stop pretending Paris didn’t happen. It has a responsibility to step up climate action to reflect the Paris deal in upcoming legislation on renewables and energy efficiency. People won’t trust the EU if it continues to play fast and loose with global warming and delays Europe’s shift to 100 percent renewable energy,” said Greenpeace EU’s climate and energy policy adviser Bram Claeys in a statement.
“EU countries need to demonstrate that the EU’s so-called climate ‘high ambition’ was a sound pledge, not just a soundbite. Having a better chance of keeping global warming well below 2C means cutting emissions by at least 95% by 2050. This clearly necessitates enhanced climate and energy targets for 2030 – we do not need to wait until 2018 or later to find that out”, added Genevieve Pons, director of WWF’s European Policy Office.
Green group coalition CAN Europe joined with business group Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and trade union confederation ETUC to form what they called “The Coalition for Higher Ambition”, in reference to the High Ambition Coalition that the EU became part of in the Paris negotiations.
The group wrote to EU leaders urging them to deeper the bloc’s ambition, though it stopped short to calling for an immediate revision of the 2030 targets.
“There is a real risk that the current level of ambition of legislation on the table is going to damage Europe’s chances of reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement. Put simply, Europe’s 2030 legislative agenda risks locking-in lower ambition,” the letter said.
The Commission document added that the system of free EUA allocations to industry beyond 2020 should be upheld but kept under review because it will only become evident in the coming years how other countries are implementing their targets.
EU leaders agreed in Oct. 2014 that the free handouts would continue only “as long as no comparable efforts are undertaken in other major economies”.
“While the Paris Agreement is a game changer in the sense of being global, the nationally determined level of effort by countries differs, with a risk of competitive disadvantage for industries if an uneven playing field will remain. The strategic decision by the European Council to preserve the free allocation regime beyond 2020 and the proposed carbon leakage provisions for the EU emission trading system strike the right balance at this point of time, but should be kept under review in the coming decade,” it said.
By Ben Garside – firstname.lastname@example.org