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EU ministers to decide on goals for Paris this Friday – what do we know?

By September 14, 2015 No Comments
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Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action

Ahead of a key European Union Environment Council meeting in Paris this Friday, here’s a round-up of some of the intel we’re hearing that could have an influence on the EU vision for the new global climate agreement set to be agreed at COP21 this December.

Two of the key issues on the table include finding a common EU position on 1) a global long-term mitigation goal, which could send a clear signal to planners, investors, politicians and other decision makers that the world is headed toward an inevitable decarbonization; and 2) whether the new global climate agreement includes an ambition mechanism to increase government’s mitigation targets. At issue in the EU is whether the bloc’s common position will push for all countries to submit/resubmit higher targets every 5 years, or would only require a stocktake review of existing targets. We know the current targets fall short of securing a climate-safe future – and that baking a mechanism into the new global climate agreement that ensure countries increase their targets every 5 years is our best chance to close the gap.

Since these are negotiations between countries within the bloc, lets take a look at what we think we know about some of the major players and where they stand.

The Global Long-term Mitigation Goal:

  • Germany – Germany helped lead the G7 to agree to global decarbonization over the course of the century, and followed that agreement with a similar bilateral deal with Brazil. We hear rumors of efforts to do the same with India during bi-lateral meetings in the near future. They’re pushing for this same language to be adopted as the EU position. While decarbonization over the course of the century is less ambitious than our partner’s call for a total fossil fuel phase-out by 2050, it doesn’t rule it out.
  • The European Commission – the Commission remains wedded to -60% by 2050, which fails to give clear signal of inevitable decarbonization.
  • Poland and it’s allies in the Visegrád group – many of these governments economy’s are tied to coal, or at least their politicians are tied to coal companies – they’re are pushing back on Germany and don’t want to see the G7 language adopted as the EU position.

The ambition mechanism

  • UK – even under the conservative Cameron government, the UK has played a relatively constructive role within the EU and internationally, pushing for climate action. Still, they’re leaving lots to be desired. We’re hearing rumors that the UK will defend the idea of ‘resubmitting’ goals every 5-years, but may fall short in pushing for progression, or upward revision, of targets.
  • France – At the Go COP21 launch in Paris last week, President Hollande acknowledged that current INDCs will not be enough to deliver the 2degC obligation and emphasized French support for a mechanism in the Paris Agreement to”regularly review the objectives and means of implementation of these contributions. The contributions of Paris are not frozen.”
  • Poland and it’s allies in the Visegrád group – many of these governments economy’s are tied to coal and are strongly pushing back on language that would require the EU to increase ambition in future.

We’re expecting a more clear picture of the EU position going into COP21 after the 18 September Environment Council meeting.

Joshua Wiese

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