Commission undermines EU climate leadership as ministers prepare to meet

Posted on 02 March 2016

EU ministers can drive Europe’s climate leadership when they meet to discuss the Paris Agreement. Unfortunately the EU Commission’s input falls far short of what is needed.
Brussels, Belgium - 2 March 2016

EU ministers have the chance to drive Europe’s climate leadership and seize the economic, health and social benefits of strong ambition when they meet on Friday to discuss the impact of the Paris Agreement on EU policy.
Unfortunately the European Commission’s input falls far short of what is needed.
“EU countries need a shot of espresso to wake up to what the Paris Agreement means for EU climate action. Unfortunately, the Commission has provided a de-caffeinated communication that totally ignores the implications of the Agreement”, said Geneviève Pons, Director of WWF’s European Policy Office.
The current EU target of 40% emissions cuts by 2030 is not in line with net zero emissions by 2050-2100 and efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, as pledged in Paris. However, the Commission proposes postponing a review of the EU’s ambition for the period beyond 2030 to 2023, thereby delaying urgently needed action.
“EU countries need to demonstrate that the EU’s so-called climate ‘high ambition’ was a sound pledge, not just a soundbite. Having a better chance of keeping global warming well below 2°C means cutting emissions by at least 95% by 2050. This clearly necessitates enhanced climate and energy targets for 2030 – we do not need to wait until 2018 or later to find that out”, added Pons.
WWF is calling on environment ministries to firmly stand up for climate ambition on Friday and ensure the EU delivers on its pledges.
“The opportunities for the EU of meaningful and strong climate action today are huge, from hundreds of thousands of new green jobs to healthier citizens and greater wellbeing. On the flipside, every delay in implementing the Paris Agreement will increase the risk of climate change devastation and send up the cost of tackling the issue”, said Pons.
This year offers several immediate opportunities to enhance EU climate and energy ambition, for example the Emissions Trading System reform, the Energy Efficiency Directive revision and the upcoming proposal for a Renewable Energy Directive. These opportunities must be grasped without hesitation to fulfil the promise of Paris.
WWF also stresses the importance of the planned ministerial discussion on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and its integration into all EU policy areas.
Notes to the editor
> Read WWF's reaction to the COP21 Paris Agreement
See more on WWF’s work on climate and energy
Read WWF’s position paper on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda
What are WWF’s asks on implementing the Paris Agreement?

The EU must reassess the long-term goal of its climate and energy policies, in line with IPCC science, to pursue efforts to keep global warming under 1.5 °C. As an immediate step, the European Council should endorse a move to explicitly aim for 95% greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

The EU must update the modelling for the 2030 climate and energy policy measures and instruments, to reflect scenarios that show how the EU can go beyond -40% domestic greenhouse gas cuts, looking at both the costs and benefits of ambitious action.

With this the 2030 climate and energy targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy, both currently set at 27% need upwards revision.

Member States and the EU must take action to make all finance flows consistent with the 1.5°C pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development as well as make progress towards international financial commitments on climate finance.

To this end, Member States and the EU should develop roadmaps outlining how they plan to meet their fair share of the $100 billion, per year by 2025, including through the use of innovative sources of finance such as the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) auctioning revenues, and by phasing out harmful fossil fuel subsidies.

The reform of the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) must be re-aligned with the enhanced global temperature goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
What is happening next?
EU Environment Ministers debate the outcome of COP21 at their meeting on 4 March.

The European Council will meet on 17-18 March: their conclusions may refer to the outcome of COP21.

Following the Council meeting, on 19 March, the strength of public support for climate action will be shown around the world as thousands of people will take action for Earth Hour, for example by turning off their lights. More:

On 22 April, the UN is hosting a ceremony for the signing of the Paris Agreement in New York. Heads of state are expected to attend, and some may ratify the Agreement at the same time. More.
Paris, where COP21 climate agreement was reached
© WWF / Martin Leers