EU policy ‘blind spots’ to hit credibility in Paris

Brussels has yet to account for ‘staggering’ 6 billion tonnes of carbon cuts in post-2020 target, CAN-Europe warns

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The EU flag flutters outside the Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels (Flickr/ TPCOM)

By Alex Pashley

The European Union could wildly miss its carbon-cutting target for 2030 with key policies undefined ahead of critical Paris climate talks in December.

As environment ministers meet to finalise its negotiating strategy this Friday, the 28-member bloc must give clarity on how it will meet its commitments, Climate Action Network Europe urged on Tuesday.

The world’s third-largest emitting bloc could cut emissions by a mere 25% over the period 2021-30 compared with 1990 levels in a “worst case scenario,” the coalition of NGOs said in a report.

That’s below its commitment to cut greenhouse gases at least 40% and would represent a small increase on its Kyoto target of 20% for 2020 on the 1990 baseline.

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Emission cuts could reach 35% in the most ambitious case. That pivots on the size of the bloc’s carbon budget – or how much it can emit – over the period to be signed off at a Paris climate summit in December.

CAN-Europe has identified a gap of 6 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent hinged on pending decisions relating to its emission trading scheme and policies on forestry. That could see its output vary from 37-43 billion tonnes over 2021-30.  

The EU emitted 4.5 bn tonnes in 2012.

“The EU pledge for the Paris agreement lacks ambition and clarity on crucial policy issues,” said Wendel Trio, director of CAN-Europe.

“The EU goes to Paris with an offer containing important blind spots, which undermines its credibility. We have no clarity over six giagtonnes of greenhouse gases, which, if emitted, would have severe consequences for climate change.”

Politicians haven’t decided the fate of countries that are sitting on a glut of surplus emissions credits, which could cut 2.6 billion tons, and policies to slow deforestation and land change, which would amount for 1.8 bn tonnes.

The EU has proposed some of the world’s strongest climate action, mandating additional targets in energy efficiency and renewable energy of 27% by 2030.

But the bloc is split on proposals for countries to deepen emission cuts at 5-year intervals as part of a global review to meet the 2C warming goal.

According to leaked documents reported by Politico, there is resistance from some members to boost the level of ambition and emphasise that “any new commitment should not fall behind previous levels.”


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