30th Nov 2021

EU vows to uphold Paris climate ambition amid scientists' fears

  • COP26 will take place from 31 October to 12 November, after being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic (Photo: Takver)
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EU leaders on Thursday (21 October) called for an "ambitious global response to climate change" to keep the 1.5 degrees global warming limit within reach - ahead of the much-awaited COP26 climate conference in Scotland later this month.

The statement comes after UN researchers concluded that the projected global increase in coal, oil and gas production by 2030 is inconsistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement commitments.

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"There is still time to limit long-term warming to 1.5 degrees, but this window of opportunity is rapidly closing," Inger Andersen, UN environment programme executive director, warned on Wednesday.

After analysing the fossil-fuel-production plans of 15 major economies, scientists said that this would lead to about 240 percent more coal, 57 percent more oil, and 71 percent more gas in 2030 than what is required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Norway, Russia, and the United Kingdom are among the countries analysed in the report.

EU member states are divided about the role of gas in cutting emissions, but its recent price surge has exposed energy dependencies and geopolitical tensions - prompting EU officials to call for a fast transition towards renewable energies.

However, UN scientists stressed that the continued long-term global expansion in gas production is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement's temperature limits.

G20 leadership?

In the summit conclusions, EU leaders also called on developed nations to step up their share in climate finance, to deliver on the longstanding commitment to give $100bn (€85bn) a year to help poorer countries tackle climate change.

The EU has been contributing with €21.2bn per year. But European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recently announced an additional €4bn in climate finance for 2021-2027.

Under a resolution, approved on Thursday, EU lawmakers suggest that a financial plan detailing each developed country's contribution should be agreed upon "to ensure that that pledges are turned into deeds".

They added that emerging economies should also start contributing from 2025 onwards.

Additionally, MEPs called for the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies in the EU by 2025, calling on other countries to follow similar steps.

"Even after vowing to phase-out fossil subsidies, G20 members still provide at least three times as much international public finance for fossil fuels as for clean energy," said Green Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout.

In its position, the European Parliament said that G20 countries should lead global action and that China should increase its climate ambition as the world's second-largest economy and the country with the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

Almost 200 countries will meet in Glasgow to present their new plans to cut emissions. COP26 will take place from 31 October to 12 November, after being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, Sweden, Estonia, and Ireland have called on G20 countries to send "a clear signal" during COP26 that they are fully aware of the responsibility they bear in the fight against climate change.

"We must send a signal to those on the frontline of the climate crisis that the international community stands with them," they said in open letter.

Producers' lobbying

Meanwhile, leaked documents on Thursday revealed how some of the major producer-countries of fossil fuels and beef products have been lobbying to weaken a key UN report – essential for providing a scientific basis of climate change in international negotiations.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces a report every six years to gather the best scientific evidence about global warming and how to best respond to climate change.

The latest, published in August, represents a key input for the upcoming negotiations at COP26.

Saudi Arabia and Australia, among others, opposed provisions over the phase-out of fossil fuels, while arguing in favour of emerging technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), the BBC reported.

Argentina and Brazil, meanwhile, rejected referring to beef as a high-carbon food option.

And eastern European countries, including Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, argued in favour of recognising the role of nuclear power in the fight against climate change.

Overall, 10 EU countries, led by France, have publicly express their support to recognise nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source.

Countries can make comments about the report, but scientists have no obligation to take them into consideration.

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