EU Commission presents COP21 ratification proposals

Greens/EFA group MEP Bas Eickhout says the EU must continue to "take the lead" on "raising global ambitions" in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

10 Jun 2016

The might include, for example, adopting "even more ambitious" climate targets for 2030.

The demand comes after the European Commission spelled out on Friday how it proposes to speed up ratification of last December's Paris agreement, the global deal on reducing CO2 emissions.

Six months ago, the EU thrashed out a deal in the French capital on behalf of member states, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The Paris pact calls for capping global warming at well below two degrees Celsius, and 1.5 C if possible.


The so-called COP21 agreement will come into force after it is ratified by at least 55 countries that account for at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Those countries will then be legally bound by it. 

The Commission's new proposal comes just weeks after the EU and 174 countries formally signed the Paris agreement, the world's first universal legally binding deal to tackle climate change, in New York. 

In an announcement on Friday, the Commission said it intends, in the coming months, to propose state targets to reduce emissions in those sectors not covered by the EU emissions trading system, such as transport, agriculture and buildings. 

The Commission said it will also propose how to integrate land use into the 2030 framework and issue a communication on low-carbon mobility. 

According to European climate action and energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, the proposals, together with the revision of the emissions trading system, will "deliver the remainder of the EU's commitments" under the Paris agreement.

Speaking in Brussels, the Spanish official described the plans as an "integral part" of the energy union's ambitious and "forward-looking" climate policy.

Cañete said: "After Paris, the EU is doing its homework. We are determined to maintain the momentum and spirit of Paris and ensure the early ratification - and the swift implementation - of this historic agreement. 

"Today's proposal demonstrates our continued commitment to lead the global clean energy transition and build a modern, sustainable and more climate-friendly economy. I am confident that Parliament and member states will complete the respective ratification procedures promptly." 

Reaction to the proposals was swift, with Eickhout, the Greens/EFA climate change spokesperson, telling this website that the Commission's proposal was "a very positive sign", as it will accelerate ratification procedures in each member state with a view to achieving ratification by the EU as whole before the COP22 at the end of the year.

The Dutch deputy, said, "It also bolsters the EU's credibility on the international stage in the fight against climate change with countries like China, India and the US pledging to ratify this year. 

"However, it is vital that the EU reviews its 2020, 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets if it doesn't want the Paris agreement to remain an empty shell. 

"In fact, the EU has already reached and indeed exceeded its 20 per cent target for reducing emissions for 2020 but had promised to commit to a 30 per cent target for 2020 if the international community agreed to act as well. 

"Since this is now the case, the EU must continue to take the lead on raising global ambitions, for example by adopting even more ambitious targets for 2030 to present to the UN that will allow us to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target: this means a target for emissions of at least 60 per cent, of 45 per cent for renewables and 40 per cent for efficiency."

The MEP added, "These new objectives should be implemented via ongoing revisions of the carbon market and the renewable energy directive which will be discussed in the course of 2016."


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