EU climate chief says regional unity vital for 2015 Paris deal

European governments can “pressurise” heads of states into climate action says Connie Hedegaard

Source: European Wind Energy Association

Source: European Wind Energy Association

By Sophie Yeo

The EU can ensure the world agrees to a legally binding deal to avert dangerous global warming, but only if it “speaks with one voice”, says the region’s climate chief.

Connie Hedegaard wants the EU’s recently proposed 2030 climate and energy package to “pressurise” heads of state from across the world into pledging ambitious actions to tackle climate change.

“Would it not be practical that Europe then would be able to speak with one voice and tell the world what we are trying to plan for?” she said, speaking at the European Energy Forecast Summit in Brussels. “I think that would send a strong signal and help others to feel a bit pressurised and also take that deadline seriously.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for leaders from governments, business, finance and civil society to meet in New York in September, bringing with them ambitious pledges that will form the basis of an international climate treaty in 2015.

A UN pact agreed last year in Warsaw said that countries must hand over their pledges in the first quarter of 2015 at the latest.

The EU was the first to come forward, and is so far the only bloc to have given any indication of what it might propose. It put forward some tentative first proposals on 22 January, including a 40% emissions reduction target for greenhouse gases, and a 27% renewables target that will be binding at a European level.

These are domestic targets, but are expected to form the basis of its contribution towards the international treaty. They are due to be discussed at a European Council meeting in March.

Hedegaard said that, on top of the need to provide investors with confidence in the long term regulatory support for low carbon technology, the spectre of the international negotiations means it makes sense to decide on domestic policies as early as possible.

“When we know we have to do this transformation energy-wise anyway, why not try to use it and get some credit in the way it is linked to the international talks?” she said.

Yesterday, the European Parliament voted for a 40% emissions reduction targets, accompanied by 30% targets for both renewables and efficiency—a stronger package than that proposed by the emission.

Hedegaard said that the European Council meeting in March could not be expected to finalise all the details, but that she hoped that it would send “strong signals” that will “promote our effort to steer the world towards the international framework on tackling climate change.”


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