EU environment ministers push for stronger climate target

7th March 2016

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Alex Shearer

Environment ministers from across Europe have called for a more ambitious climate target despite the European commission concluding that this was not necessary.

The ministers met on Friday to discuss what member states need to do to implement the Paris agreement. An assessment by the commission, published ahead of the ministerial meeting, stated that existing EU target to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40% based on 1990 levels by 2030, increase the share of renewable energy to 27%, and achieve energy savings of 27%, did not need revising.

But ministers from Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal, the UK, France, Sweden, Greece and Denmark pushed for more robust EU action. Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, meanwhile, were against raising the 2030 targets.

Research by campaign organisation Sandbag concludes that increasing the European climate target would have minimal impact on its economy, since member states are already set to over-deliver against the 2020 target.

This requires emissions to be 20% less than in 1990, but Sandbag said countries are likely to reduce them by 30%. The group said further revisions of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) were the best way to strengthen the EU target.

It wants carbon allowances already removed from the market to be cancelled, and for the ETS cap to rise. Increasing the upper limit would prevent persistently low carbon prices, which have stymied success of the scheme so far, Sandbag said.

Discussions on the EU’s climate action post-Paris will now pass to a meeting of heads of state in mid-March.

EU ministers have already agreed to formally ratify the Paris agreement. Ratification opens on 22 April in New York, and the agreement will enter into force when it has been ratified by parties representing at least 55% of global emissions.

The commission’s assessment also recommended fast tracking legislation implement the 2030 climate targets. Over the next 12 months, the commission is due to publish proposals on an effort-sharing decision for sectors not covered by the ETS; and on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF); mechanisms to establish transparent governance for climate and energy policy; and proposals to improve energy efficiency and support renewable energy technologies.


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