EU climate and foreign affairs chiefs pair up for Lima summit

Miguel Arias Canete and Federica Mogherini will mobilise “all our EU diplomatic intelligence” for UN climate talks

Miguel Arias Canete is working with Federica Mogherini toward UN climate talks in Lima next month (Pic: Flickr/Government of Spain; Wikimedia Commons/US Department of State)

Miguel Arias Canete is working with Federica Mogherini toward UN climate talks in Lima next month
(Pic: Flickr/Government of Spain; Wikimedia Commons/US Department of State)

By Megan Darby

The European Union will put climate action “at the core of our external relations”, Miguel Arias Canete has promised.

The energy and climate action commissioner has met with Federica Mogherini, the high representative for foreign affairs, to prepare for UN climate talks in Lima next month.

“We decided that all our EU diplomatic intelligence should be mobilised in view of the negotiations in Lima,” Canete told members of the European Parliament.

In his first speech since entering the European Commission on 1 November, Canete said the EU “must set a global example in terms of climate action”.

His department will set out “in the coming months” the EU’s vision for a global climate deal to be struck in Paris next year.

“Our determination must be seen as an invitation to other major international players to come forward with their intended greenhouse gas reduction contributions.”

EU 2030

European leaders last month agreed a climate and energy policy framework for next decade, which will form the basis of the EU’s contribution.

The EU 2030 package targets a greenhouse gas emissions cut of “at least” 40% on 1990 levels across the bloc.

It also sets goals to generate 27% of energy from renewable sources and improve energy efficiency 27% by 2030.

Canete welcomed the deal, although he said “we would have hoped for a more ambitious agreement” on energy efficiency.

There is a review clause, he noted, and the commission “will strive” to up the target to 30%.

When it comes to national emissions reductions, Canete said “we need to remain very vigilant to safeguard the environmental integrity of the system”.

This was a nod to concerns that “flexibility” measures could allow back-door subsidy for Polish coal plants, undermining the effectiveness of the package.

And Canete showed willing to accelerate and strengthen reforms to the emissions trading scheme (ETS), which is expected to deliver the bulk of carbon cuts.


As well as working with Mogherini on the climate diplomacy front, Canete is to coordinate with vice presidents Jyrki Katainen and Maros Sefcovic.

Katainen is leading on a €300 billion jobs, growth and investments plan to be proposed in the coming weeks.

This is “an excellent opportunity” for energy infrastructure investments, Canete said, which will also help with Sefcovic’s “energy union” project.

Canete got a rough ride from MEPs at a pre-appointment hearing over his ties to two oil companies and record as Spain’s environment minister.

Greens questioned his commitment to climate action, although they conceded he was “competent on content”.

He was ultimately approved, after the legal affairs committee ruled there was no conflict of interest.

UK energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey defended his Spanish counterpart in an interview with Euractiv, accusing critics of being “ill-informed”.

The two had worked together in the “green growth group” of 14 member states pushing for a higher greenhouse gas emissions target, ahead of the EU 2030 deal.

“Having got to know him over two years, and knowing how committed he is to green, clean energy he is, I completely welcome his appointment,” said Davey.

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