EU adopts its negotiation mandate for the Paris climate summit

Publish date: September 21, 2015

On 18 September 2015 the Environmental Council adopted the EU negotiation mandate that will lay the ground for the EU’s position in the climate talks in Paris at the end of the year. Bellona welcomes the adopted text, which features a commitment to cutting CO2 emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels; a five-yearly review mechanism of climate ambition; strong transparency and accountability rules, and the promise of much-needed climate finance.

Bellona is content to see the EU Member States agreeing over the need for an ambitious and legally-binding Paris Agreement. The text recalls the EU’s objective of cutting emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990, and stresses the importance of going carbon neutral or negative by 2100. What we need to see in Paris is countries keeping this level of ambition, and acknowledging that attaining such a deep decarbonisation of power, and especially industry sectors, would necessitate large-scale deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology” notes Jonas Helseth, Director at Bellona Europa, in reaction to the EU COP 21 mandate.

In the agreed COP 21 mandate, environment ministers from the EU’s 28 Member States reiterated the importance of peaking global emissions by 2020 at the latest, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. What is more, the mandate text emphasises the need for reducing emissions to near or below zero by 2100, in order to retain temperature rise below the 2°C increase as recommended by the IPCC.

The EU Commissioner for energy and climate action, Miguel Arias Cañete, emphasised the need for agreeing on a long-term binding target. According to the mandate, all countries should “pursue transformative pathways towards a long-term vision of global and sustainable climate neutrality and climate resilience in the second half of this century.”

Current level of climate ambition: insufficient to keep planet within safe limits of warming

While welcoming the EU Paris mandate, Bellona finds it unfortunate that the possibility of tightening the EU’s CO2 emission reduction target did not feature in Member States’ discussions. The European Council last year endorsed a binding EU target of at least 40% domestic CO2 reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, but allowing for review and potential tightening of these targets in the aftermath of the Paris summit. Bellona would strongly support a tightening of the CO2 reduction target, in particular when it comes to the non-ETS sectors (including transport), where only minimal domestic action would need to be undertaken to meet Member State targets.

Bellona is not the only stakeholder expressing concern with regards to the inadequacy of existing climate pledges (also known as INDCs).  Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), too, recently voiced in Brussels that the total sum of countries’ INDCs that have been delivered until now “do not add up to 2 degrees.” This means that more ambitious commitments will be needed in the aftermath of the Paris agreement this December.

Last but not least, the text underlines Member States’ commitment “to scaling up the mobilisation of climate finance in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency of implementation” as this will be needed to mobilise the USD 100 billion per year by 2020 that are expected to be a necessity in climate finance.

To view the mandate text click here.

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