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Climate change

2030 Climate Target Plan: Commission invites initial feedback on four future legislative proposals

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The Commission has published its Inception Impact Assessments on four central pieces of European climate legislation, due to be adopted in June 2021 to implement the 2030 Climate Target Plan. These four future proposals will help to deliver on the European Green Deal and achieve the proposed new emissions reductions target of at least 55% by 2030. The Inception Impact Assessments on the EU Emissions Trading System, the Effort Sharing Regulation, the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation and CO2 standards for cars are now open for public feedback for four weeks, until Thursday, 26 November 2020. They set out the potential nature and scope of the revisions for each of these policy instruments and of the analysis that the Commission will carry out in the coming months. This initial feedback period will be followed in due course by further Open Public Consultations.

Climate change

Infographic: Timeline of climate change negotiations

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From the Earth Summit to the Paris Agreement, discover the most important events in the history of climate change negotiations in chronological order.

The EU has been a key player in talks led by the United Nations and in 2015 committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

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Climate change

US formally quits Paris climate deal amid election uncertainty

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But the outcome of the tight US election contest will determine for how long. Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has promised to rejoin the agreement if elected.

The US still remains a party to the UNFCCC. Espinosa said the body will be “ready to assist the US in any effort in order to rejoin the Paris Agreement”.

Trump first announced his intention to withdraw the US from the pact in June 2017, arguing it would undermine the country’s economy.

The Trump administration formally served notice of the withdrawal to the United Nations on November 4, 2019, which took one year to take effect.

The departure makes the US the only country of 197 signatories to have withdrawn from the agreement, hashed out in 2015.

‘Lost opportunity’

Current and former climate diplomats said the task of curbing global warming to safe levels would be tougher without the financial and diplomatic might of the US.

“This will be a lost opportunity for a collective global fight against climate change,” said Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale, chair of the African Group of Negotiators in global climate talks.

A US exit would also create a “significant shortfall” in global climate finances, Gahouma-Bekale said, pointing to an Obama-era pledge to contribute $3bn to a fund to help vulnerable countries tackle climate change, of which only $1bn was delivered.

“The challenge to close the global ambition gap becomes much, much harder in the short term,” said Thom Woodroofe, a former diplomat in UN climate talks, now a senior adviser at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

However, other major emitters have doubled down on climate action even without guarantees the US will follow suit. China, Japan and South Korea have all pledged in recent weeks to become carbon neutral – a commitment already made by the European Union.

Those pledges will help drive the huge low-carbon investments needed to curb climate change. If the US were to re-enter the Paris accord, it would give those efforts “a massive shot in the arm”, Woodroofe said.

European and US investors with a collective $30 trillion in assets on Wednesday urged the country to quickly rejoin the Paris Agreement and warned the country risked falling behind in the global race to build a low-carbon economy.

Scientists say the world must cut emissions sharply this decade in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of global warming.

The Rhodium Group said in 2020, the US will be at about 21 percent below 2005 levels. It added that under a second Trump administration, it expects US emissions would increase by more than 30 percent through 2035 from 2019 levels.

Obama’s White House had pledged to cut US emissions to 26-28 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels under the Paris deal.

Biden is broadly expected to ramp up those goals if elected. He has promised to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 under a sweeping $2 trillion plan to transform the economy.

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EU climate law: MEPs want to increase 2030 emissions reduction target to 60%

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Parliament wants each individual EU member state to become carbon neutral by 2050 ©Adobe Stock 

All member states must become climate neutral by 2050, says Parliament in a vote on the EU climate law, calling for ambitious 2030 and 2040 emissions reduction targets.

Parliament has adopted its negotiating mandate on the EU climate law with 392 votes for, 161 against and 142 abstentions. The new law aims to transform political promises that the EU will become climate neutral by 2050 into a binding obligation and to give European citizens and businesses the legal certainty and predictability they need to plan for the transformation.

MEPs insist that both the EU and all member states individually must become climate-neutral by 2050 and that thereafter the EU shall achieve “negative emissions”. They also call for sufficient financing to achieve this.

The Commission must propose by 31 May 2023, through the ordinary decision-making procedure, a trajectory at EU level on how to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, say MEPs. It must take into account the total remaining EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions until 2050 to limit the increase in temperature in accordance with the Paris Agreement. The trajectory shall be reviewed after each stocktake at global level.

MEPs also want to set up an EU Climate Change Council (ECCC) as an independent scientific body to assess whether policy is consistent and to monitor progress.

A more ambitious 2030-target needed

The EU’s current emissions reductions target for 2030 is 40% compared to 1990. The Commission recently proposed to increase this target to “at least 55%” in the amended proposal for an EU climate law. MEPs today raised the bar even further, calling for a reduction of 60% in 2030, adding that national targets shall be increased in a cost-efficient and fair way.

They also want an interim target for 2040 to be proposed by the Commission following an impact assessment, to ensure the EU is on track to reach its 2050 target.

Finally, the EU and member states must also phase out all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies by 31 December 2025 at the latest, say MEPs, while they underline the need to continue efforts to combat energy poverty.

After the vote, Parliament rapporteur Jytte Guteland (S&D, Sweden) said: “The adoption of the report sends a clear message to the Commission and the Council, in light of the upcoming negotiations. We expect all member states to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest and we need strong interim targets in 2030 and 2040 for the EU to achieve this.

"I’m also satisfied with the inclusion of a greenhouse gas budget, which sets out the total remaining quantity of emissions that can be emitted until 2050, without putting at risk the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

Next steps

Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with member states once Council has agreed upon a common position.

Background

Following the European Council decision (2019) to endorse the 2050 climate-neutrality objective, the Commission in March 2020 proposed the EU climate law that would make it a legal requirement for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050.

Parliament has played an important role in pushing for more ambitious EU climate legislation and declared a climate emergency on 28 November 2019.

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