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#GreenRecovery - Commission launches public consultation on Renovation Wave for energy-efficient buildings

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The Commission has opened a public consultation on measures to boost building renovation across the EU. Buildings are responsible for 40% of EU energy consumption and 36% of EU greenhouse gas emissions, so a more energy-efficient building stock is good for the planet and can make a significant contribution to the European Green Deal.

The Renovation Wave is also one of the priorities identified in the Commission's recent Recovery Package, due to the high job creation and investment potential. Through this consultation, the Commission is seeking feedback on how to increase the rate and quality of building renovations, through regulatory, policy and financial instruments. The consultation will run until 9 July and the feedback received will directly contribute to the proposals to be presented by the Commission after the summer.

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “A comfortable home and affordable energy bills are among the top priorities of every family in Europe, and we want to make this a reality for each and every one of them. At the same time, we want to renew public buildings like schools and hospitals, and commercial properties, to make sure they are both energy efficient and cost efficient. The Renovation Wave will create local jobs and economic benefits all across Europe.”

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The Commission has already published a Roadmap for this initiative and a Communication and Action Plan are planned for the autumn. More information is available in this news item and the consultation can be accessed directly here.

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Climate change

Executive Vice President Timmermans holds High-Level Climate Change Dialogue with Turkey

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Executive Vice President Timmermans received Turkish Environment and Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum in Brussels for a high-level dialogue on climate change. Both the EU and Turkey experienced extreme impacts of climate change during the summer, in the form of wildfires and floods. Turkey has also seen the largest ever outbreak of ‘sea snot' in the Marmara Sea – overgrowth of microscopic algae caused by water pollution and climate change. In the wake of these climate change-induced events, Turkey and the EU discussed areas where they could advance their climate cooperation, in the pursuit of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Executive Vice-President Timmermans and Minister Kurum exchanged views on urgent actions required to close the gap between what is needed and what is being done in terms of cutting emissions down to net-zero by mid-century, and thereby keep the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement within reach. They discussed carbon pricing policies as an area of common interest, considering the forthcoming establishment of an Emissions Trading System in Turkey and the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System. Adaptation to climate change also featured high on the agenda along with nature-based solutions to counter climate change and biodiversity loss. You can watch their common press remarks here. More information on the High-Level Dialogue here.

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Economy

Sustainable urban transport takes centre stage for European Mobility Week

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Around 3,000 towns and cities across Europe are participating in this year's European Mobility Week, which started yesterday and will last until Wednesday, 22 September. The 2021 campaign has been launched under the theme ‘Safe and healthy with sustainable mobility', and will promote the use of public transport as a safe, efficient, affordable, and low-emission mobility option for everyone. 2021 is also the 20th anniversary of car-free day, from which the European Mobility Week has grown.

“A clean, smart and resilient transport system is at the core of our economies and central to people's lives. This is why, on the 20th anniversary of the European Mobility Week, I am proud of the 3,000 cities across Europe and beyond for showcasing how safe and sustainable transport options help our communities to stay connected during these challenging times,” said Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean.

For this landmark year, the European Commission has created a virtual museum showcasing the history of the week, its impact, personal stories, and how it links with the EU's broader sustainability priorities. Elsewhere, activities around Europe include bicycle festivals, exhibitions of electric vehicles and workshops. This year's event also coincides with a public consultation on the Commission's ideas for a new urban mobility framework, and the European Year of Rail with its Connecting Europe Express train.

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Methane

Joint EU-US press release on the Global Methane Pledge

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The European Union and the United States have announced the Global Methane Pledge, an initiative to reduce global methane emissions to be launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November in Glasgow. President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged countries at the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) to join the Pledge and welcomed those that have already signaled their support.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and, according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, accounts for about half of the 1.0 degrees Celsius net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era. Rapidly reducing methane emissions is complementary to action on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and is regarded as the single most effective strategy to reduce global warming in the near term and keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. 

Countries joining the Global Methane Pledge commit to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030 and moving towards using best available inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions, with a particular focus on high emission sources. Delivering on the Pledge would reduce warming by at least 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050. Countries have widely varying methane emissions profiles and reduction potential, but all can contribute to achieving the collective global goal through additional domestic methane reduction and international cooperative actions. Major sources of methane emissions include oil and gas, coal, agriculture, and landfills. These sectors have different starting points and varying potential for short-term methane abatement with the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030 in the energy sector. 

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Methane abatement delivers additional important benefits, including improved public health and agricultural productivity.  According to the Global Methane Assessment from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), achieving the 2030 goal can prevent over 200,000 premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma-related emergency room visits, and over 20 million tons of crop losses a year by 2030 by reducing ground-level ozone pollution caused in part by methane. 

The European Union and eight countries have already indicated their support for the Global Methane Pledge. These countries include six of the top 15 methane emitters globally and together account for over one-fifth of global methane emissions and nearly half of the global economy.

The European Union has been taking steps to reduce its methane emissions for almost three decades. The European Commission strategy adopted in 1996 helped reduce methane emissions from landfilling by almost a half. Under the European Green Deal, and to support the European Union's commitment to climate neutrality by 2050, the European Union adopted in October 2020 a strategy to reduce methane emissions in all key sectors covering energy, agriculture and waste. The reduction of methane emissions in the current decade is an important part of the European Union's ambition for reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. This year, the European Commission will propose legislation to measure, report and verify methane emission, put limits on venting and flaring, and impose requirements to detect leaks, and repair them.  The European Commission is also working to accelerate the uptake of mitigation technologies through the wider deployment of ‘carbon farming' in European Union Member States and through their Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plans, and to promote biomethane production from agricultural waste and residues. Finally, the European Commission is supporting the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in establishing an independent International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) to address the global data gap and transparency in this area, including through a financial contribution. IMEO will play an important role in creating a sound scientific basis for methane emissions calculations and delivering the Global Methane Pledge in this regard.

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The United States is pursuing significant methane reductions on multiple fronts. In response to an Executive Order that President Biden issued on the first day of his Presidency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is promulgating new regulations to curtail methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. In parallel, the EPA has taken steps to implement stronger pollution standards for landfills and the Department of Transportation's Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration is continuing to take steps that will reduce methane leakage from pipelines and related facilities. At the President's urging and in partnership with US farmers and ranchers, the US Department of Agriculture is working to significantly expand the voluntary adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices that will reduce methane emissions from key agriculture sources by incentivizing the deployment of improved manure management systems, anaerobic digesters, new livestock feeds, composting and other practices. The US Congress is considering supplemental funding that would support many of these efforts. Among the proposals before the Congress, for example, is a major initiative to plug and remediate orphaned and abandoned oil, gas, and coal wells and mines, which would significantly reduce methane emissions. In addition, the United States continues to support collaborative international methane mitigation efforts, especially through its leadership of the Global Methane Initiative and CCAC.

The European Union and eight countries have already indicated their support for the Global Methane Pledge:

  • Argentina
  • Ghana
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

The United States, the European Union and other early supporters will continue to enlist additional countries to join the Global Methane Pledge pending its formal launch at COP 26.

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