Annual global conferences on climate change usually attract leaders from around the world; this time is COP27 UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Egypt during November. The European Commission will address participants with a plea to take urgent practical actions to bring down greenhouse gas emissions and respect the commitments already made in 2015 (Paris Agreement) and in 2021 (the Glasgow Climate Pact).
Following the 2015 Paris Agreement, 194 countries agreed to adopt and submit to the world the “nationally determined contributions”, NDCs which represent the states individual emissions reduction targets. Collectively, these NDCs should contribute to keeping average global temperature change below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C by the end of the century. The 2022 reports made by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the global measures are not sufficient and that the goal of reaching the 1.5ºC level could be “in high danger”; only the most drastic cuts in carbon emissions would help prevent an environmental disaster. This level of temperature rise would have extremely harmful effects that pose an existential challenge to most countries in the world.
Thus, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned recently that the planet is heading toward irreversible “climate chaos” and urging global leaders at the climate summit in Egypt to cut emissions, sustain promises on climate financing, help developing countries speed their transition to renewable energy and visualize “a clear political will to reduce emissions faster”. Thus, Guterres said greenhouse gas emissions are now on course to rise by 10 per cent, and temperatures are on course to rise by as much as 2.8 degrees Celsius under present policies by the end of the century.
Key aims for the conference include an increased global ambition on greenhouse gas reduction efforts to keep the temperature limits inscribed in the Paris agreement within reach, increased global efforts on adaptation and climate financing and making progress on supporting developing countries to tackle loss and damage. Parties will also work on other important topics including forests and agriculture, technology transfer, indigenous peoples and gender. Despite commitments made at COP26 last year, present UNEP Emission Gap Report shows that the international community is falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place. Policies currently in place point to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century. Implementation of the current pledges will reduce this to a 2.4-2.6°C temperature rise by the end of the century. It is therefore essential to maintain the political pressure and momentum at COP27, and to convince the world’s largest emitters, to take urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions more quickly.
Reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/da/qanda_22_6525
The EU position at the COP27
The EU is represented at the summit by the Commission President von der Leyen, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, as well as some Commissioners, e.g. for energy (Kadri Simson), for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries (Virginijus Sinkevičius) and for agriculture (Janusz Wojciechowski).
The Commission’s negotiating team will push for the implementation of existing commitments to move from ambitious words to concrete actions, including through the adoption of a Mitigation Work Program to urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation in this critical decade.
On adaptation to climate change, the EU is committed to achieve clear progress towards the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). Nature-based solutions, as highlighted in last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact, play a crucial role in enabling adaptation to climate change and preserving biodiversity, which will also be a key topic at the Biodiversity COP15 later this year.
On the issue of loss and damage, the EU will seek effective solutions to meet the diverse needs of vulnerable countries around the world facing the effects of climate change; thus, the EU supports an official agenda item on averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage to enable Parties to discuss the best way forward to facilitate swift access to finance and scale up support for vulnerable countries and communities.
The EU will work with developed countries to ensure they double financing for adaptation by 2025 compared to 2019 levels, and that they increase climate finance contributions to meet the annual $100 billion target to which the EU contributed €23.04 billion in 2021 – a steady and by far the largest contribution.
Source: Commission’s statement at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/da/ip_22_6524
The European policy on climate mitigation
The European Union is a recognized global leader in climate action, having already cut its greenhouse gas emissions by over a quarter since 1990, while growing its economy by over 60%. With the European Green Deal presented in December 2019, the EU further raised its climate ambition by committing to reaching climate neutrality by 2050. This objective became legally binding with the adoption and entry into force of the European Climate Law, in July 2021.
The Climate Law also sets an intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels; this “Fit-for-55” target was communicated to the UNFCCC in December 2020 as the EU’s NDC under the Paris Agreement.
In 2021, the EU adopted a package of proposals to make its climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. A first agreement on zero emission cars and vans was reached already this October. The EU will update its NDC, as appropriate, as soon as possible after all these proposals are adopted.
Climate finance is critical to support vulnerable communities to protect themselves against the impacts of climate change and to support sustainable economic growth.
Developed countries have committed to mobilise a total of $100 billion of international climate finance per year from 2020 until 2025 to help the most vulnerable countries and small island states in particular, in their mitigation and adaptation efforts. The EU is the biggest donor with a steadily rising contribution to around a quarter of the target. Other donor countries must now step up their efforts and meet the current shortfall. While the EU-27 is the largest contributor of international public climate finance with €23 billion in 2020 and 2021, there is an urgent need for other developed countries to contribute more.
In July 2021, the EU adopted a set of legislative proposals aimed at reaching its ambitious new GHG reductions in a fair, cost effective and competitive way. These proposals combine market-based mechanisms with more ambitious, legally binding targets for renewable energy, energy efficiency, the preservation and increase of natural carbon sinks, a faster roll-out of low emission transport, including the infrastructure and fuels to support them, as well as an alignment of taxation policies with the European Green Deal objectives and measures to prevent carbon leakage.
In October 2022, the first agreement was reached on zero-emission cars by 2035; negotiations on other elements of the package are expected to conclude by the end of this year.
The EU also took decisive action with the REPowerEU Plan; its most urgent measures include: a) boosting energy efficiency and energy saving actions with a proposal to increase from 9% to 13% the binding EU Energy Efficiency Target; b) accelerating the rollout of renewables, and increase the EU headline 2030 target from 40% to 45%; and c) diversifying the EU’s energy supply with international partners.
More Information in: = Q&A on the EU at COP27; = EU at COP27 Side Events Programme; = Factsheet on Team Europe’s contribution to climate finance; = Factsheet on EU research and innovation for climate action.