EU climate chief outlines criteria for Paris success

World must agree to zero emissions trajectory by 2100 says Miguel Arias Canete, or 2015 deal will lack credibility

(Pic: Screenshot/EU TV)

(Pic: Screenshot/EU TV)

By Ed King

Europe’s chief climate official has outlined four elements of a global climate deal he says must be in place if the agreement set to be finalised in Paris this December can be deemed a success.

A long term emission reduction goal, regular reviews charting progress, the commitment of all major polluters and a common method for measuring carbon cuts were all essential ingredients, said Miguel Arias Canete.

He also reiterated EU calls for emissions targets to be legally binding under the deal, acknowledging that the US and some other countries were “reluctant to agree”.

“It is up to these countries to demonstrate a convincing alternative that gives the necessary long-term signal that citizens, markets and decision makers need,” said Canete.

Speaking to media in Brussels, the EU climate commissioner said he had “no doubt” a new climate agreement would be signed off this year, but “the question is: will it be enough?”

The EU’s preference for a long term goal was “at least” 60% global emission cuts on 2010 levels by 2050, falling to zero by 2100.

Canete said “dynamic” reviews to ensure the ambition of these reductions were continually boosted was vital, as were tougher transparency measures.

And he called on larger countries that have not yet declared their UN climate plans, known as “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) in UN jargon, to speed up their development.

“Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey must submit without delay,” he said.

A report by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change released on Wednesday confirmed that emissions targets entered to date are insufficient to prevent dangerous warming.

The authors said this showed the need for a mechanism to review national contributions and “find ways of ramping up the ambition of their emissions reductions by 2030 and beyond”.

The UN is set to deliver a review of submissions by the start of November. Canete said a planned EU-Morocco summit in Rabat in mid-October would also attempt to offer clarity.

“We want to do an overall assessment for the level of ambition. That’s the first objective. The second is: if we’re not going to meet the 2C target, what can we do,” he said.

Finance queries

The EU’s final negotiating strategy will be presented for approval by member states on 18 September, but, the commissioner admitted, there was still no sign of a wider climate finance package.

In 2009, wealthy nations committed to delivering US$100 billion a year to poorer parts of the world by 2020, but progress on raising funds has been slow.

“Of course it will be an important part – we have send a message and deliver the $100 billion,” he said.

“At the moment there is ongoing work to clarify the situation and make clear what are public grants and what are the investments of private sector. We have to give assurances.”

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