EU unveils Paris negotiation position – supporting full phase out of emissions

Paris negotiation position

Courtesy of: Lode Saidane/ WWF

The EU’s negotiating position for the global climate talks in Paris in December was agreed and published on Friday.

The bloc’s joint position calls for the new global climate agreement to include a mechanism to revise national pledges every five years. Ministers also agreed to push for a provision that prevents new or updated commitments to fall behind previous levels.

The position says the agreement should commit governments to a long-term vision for “climate neutrality and climate resilience in the second half of this century” – aligning the EU position on a long-term goal with other major emitters in among the world’s largest economies.

Earlier this year, the G7 called for a global decarbonization “during the course of the century,” signaling ‘game over’ for fossil fuels.

Friday’s unveiling also fed hopes that the bloc’s climate finance contributions would increase before December.

According to EU climate chief Miguel Cañete, Europe delivered €9.5 billion of climate finance in 2013, and is “committed” to ramping this up, pending a meeting of finance ministers in November.

Cañete also said the EU was asking all countries to peak their emissions by 2020.

While the bloc’s joint position fuels optimism that Paris could deliver a lasting architecture to ramp up inadequate climate plans in the coming years, a number of leaders in the European climate movement expressed frustration over how the bloc’s position falls short.

Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Jiri Jerabek said:

The EU´s position is still far from what is needed to reach an effective global deal. Europe can and should do more to speed-up the energy transition towards a renewable-based system and commit to phase out fossil fuels at home. In Paris, the EU should present a united front to support a long term global goal to phase out fossil fuels by 2050.

Around the world, campaigners and a growing group of climate change researchers are calling for a complete phase-out of fossil fuels and phase-in of 100% renewable by 2050.

Another notably missing piece of the the EU’s position is the way the bloc intends to deliver more than the proposed 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2030. Geneviève Pons Deladrière, Director of the WWF European Policy Office, said:

As climate change is speeding up and getting worse, it’s regrettable that EU Environment Ministers failed to spell out how the EU intends to increase its own climate and energy targets.

Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe echoed his network partner’s frustrations:

The call for a phase out of emissions from all the EU Member States is an important signal that the EU still wants to reach a meaningful Paris agreement, which should provide an action plan for a transition to a fossil fuel free economy. The unanimous decision to end carbon pollution is what we expect from leaders at a time of a climate crisis. However, if we are to tackle climate change before it spins out of control, the EU needs to support its allies in the developing countries in their pledge for completing this transition by the middle of this century.

Ahead of the meeting activists in Brussels staged a tug-of-war contest between fossil fuels and renewable energy, and called on the ministers to go further than their commitment of cutting emissions 40% by 2030.

Those on the renewable energy side won.

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