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Climate Action Network released the following statement upon the release of Europe's commitment towards the Paris agreement on climate change today.
European environment ministers have today agreed on the EU’s first climate action commitment towards the Paris agreement. The pledge translates its previously announced target to reduce carbon pollution by at least 40% by 2030. After Switzerland, the EU will be the second party in the world to lodge its plan to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy with the UN. Commitments from other major countries including the United States and Mexico are expected later this month. Together, these pledges will signal the start of what will be the world’s first collective step on climate action.
Europe has in many ways been spearheading the global transition, and it has only last week presented a domestic energy strategy that makes clear that Europe’s move towards a decarbonized economy is well underway. That’s why some observers want Europe’s first offer to go further in harnessing progress towards a fossil fuel phase out and Europe’s vision to be the world leader in renewable energy. For example, Denmark has already committed to make 100% of their electricity supply renewable and party leaders in the UK have committed to phase out coal. Accelerating this transition makes sense because it can deliver more and better jobs, improved public health and more robust economies.
Today’s announcement leaves open the tricky question of how to deal with forests when counting emission reductions. If not handled well, accounting rules could dilute the EU’s commitment. Progressive Member States are working to reach a decision that ensures environmental integrity and retains ambition. Furthermore, despite calling for countries to renew their pledges under the Paris agreement every five years, the EU does not outline a 2025 target in its offer.
The EU’s plan stayed silent on the amount of additional support they'd provide to developing countries who are expected to take their own climate action under the Paris agreement. Scaling up support will be vital if we're to secure a comprehensive global climate agreement in Paris in December that builds resilient communities and helps vulnerable people cope with unavoidable climate impacts. In a bid to shore up Europe’s leadership on climate, European foreign ministers can step up and explicitly outline their offer to help communities adopt renewable energy and adapt to climate change.
Undoubtedly, this offer will not be the final word from Europe on climate action towards the Paris agreement. Indeed, the EU’s pledge document says it looks forward to working with other countries to find “ways to collectively increase ambition further”. And European NGOs will continue to push member states to do more to unlock the “at least” part of their 2030 commitment. The European Commission has already outlined plans to hold a conference in November to review collective commitments, providing the impetus for all countries to consider what more they can do to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. To give that agreement a smoother landing, Europe can reassert itself as a leader on climate diplomacy giving countries confidence in the collective steps we’re taking on climate action.
Contact: Ria Voorhaar
Head - International Communications Coordination
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