EU publishes ‘ambitious, robust’ plan for Paris climate deal

WEEKLY WRAP: Brussels backs long term goal, regular reviews and offers hope of more climate finance in COP21 package

(Pic: Screenshot/EU TV)

(Pic: Screenshot/EU TV)

By Ed King

Europe will not settle for anything other than a tough climate deal in Paris this year, said Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete as he unveiled the bloc’s negotiation positions.

“Today is a very good day” he said, outlining a package that calls for a global greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2020, and 50% cuts on 1990 levels by mid-century.

Under the EU plans all 195 countries participating in the UN talks will be carbon neutral by the end of the century.

The bloc, which Canete said delivered €9.5 billion of climate finance in 2013, is “committed” to ramping this up, pending a meeting of finance ministers in November.

Luxembourg environment minister Carole Dieschbourg, who will represent the European Council in Paris, revealed countries were firmly behind plans for regular 5-year reviews of global climate efforts.

“This is very important if we want to have a credible agreement in Paris…. we will push on accountability and transparency which is very important for the EU,” she said.

Dieschbourg said the possibility member states could raise their goal of 40% carbon cuts by 2030 on 1990 levels in the event of a tough Paris pact had not been discussed.

The proposal – already part of the bloc’s 2030 climate plan – has been fiercely opposed by some Eastern European countries in recent discussions.

Dodgy stats

How much coal has China really burnt in the past decade? The answer is a lot more than previously advertised, according to the number crunchers at the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). They say China may have used 14% more coal from 2000 to 2013 that it thought – with potentially huge ramifications for the climate.

Staying in China, and the economic crisis that has seen stocks plunge could start biting into the clean energy sector, which relies heavily on the markets for finance. That’s the view of Fei Teng, an associate professor with the Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy at the influential Tsinghua University.

“Some investors in these industries tell us they believe it will be very difficult to achieve the 20% energy goal in the Chinese INDC [UN climate plan],” he told RTCC.

Still – it’s not all bad news. US and China regions signed a series of cooperation pacts this week. In addition, Beijing and Guangzhou will seek to peak their carbon dioxide emissions by the end of 2020, ten years earlier than the national goal.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“As of today, I have fallen into a tundra river (twice) and looked inside the permafrost–ready basement of a house through a giant crack stretching across the house. I don’t know about you, but I call that progress.”

Intrepid reporter Olga Dobrovidova continues her melting permafrost quest in Siberia.

Paris talks

Plenty cooking this week – we’ll start here with France’s top climate diplomat telling reporters in Paris that a long term carbon cutting goal is vital for the success of a global pact.

To this end she wants countries to sign off on individual ‘pathways’ to a low emissions future this December. More on those and the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) here.

MEASURING UP?

“It can be argued that the UN climate process has already been a success. The road to Paris has already prompted promises from countries around the world that very probably would not otherwise have been made, and certainly not within this timeframe.”

Joss Garman on how he thinks Paris should be judged.

INDC watch

The Comoros Islands is the latest national climate pledge in the pot, promising 84% cuts on a business as usual trajectory by 2030.

Tunisia also delivered a plan this week, committing to a 13% cut in carbon intensity per unit of GDP by 2030, and warning of the effects on tourism it could suffer from warming.

Meanwhile Argentina is preparing what civil society in the country warn is a “weak” promise to cut emissions 15% by 2030. One local observer said the way its climate plans were presented amounted to “cheating”.

All the latest pledges and our emissions calculator on the Paris Tracker. Accept no imitations.

The hiatus

Did global warming stall from 1998 to 2013? New research from Stanford University says it never happened. “Our results clearly show that, in terms of the statistics of the long-term global temperature data, there was never a hiatus, a pause or a slowdown in global warming,” said Noah Diffenbaugh co-author of the study.

Turnbull: climate champ?

Exit Tony, enter Malcolm. The latest twist in Australia’s bonkers politics came this week as PM Tony Abbott, a famed climate sceptic, found himself the victim of a Liberal party coup which resulted in the end of his reign.

In previous interviews and blogs, his replacement Turnbull described Abbott’s climate strategy as “bullshit” and made a conservative case for tackling greenhouse gas emissions. Will it make an iota of difference for Paris? Stay tuned.

EXCITING TIMES

From Monday you’ll notice RTCC has a new name and a new look. We hope you like it – but be assured our commitment to quality journalism and lifting the lid on the UN climate talks will not change. As ever I’d welcome your feedback – you can email me at [email protected]

Read more on: Breaking News | EU | UN climate talks |