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23rd Jan 2022

EU diplomats push other states to set climate targets

  • The diplomats of the EU foreign service have been setting up climate meetings around the world. (Photo: United Nations Photo)

Countries outside the European Union are becoming more interested in discussing climate change at a higher political level, according to an internal EU document.

According to the paper, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China, is “aiming to submit its [climate target] by June”.

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The EU's diplomatic service started in March started a concerted push in 60 countries to convince them to come forward with greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The paper, dated 17 April and seen by this website, noted that in 14 countries, including Brazil, meetings were set up at (vice-)ministerial level or higher “which confirms the increasing importance of climate change related matters and interest to discuss those issues at higher level in many of the partner countries”.

In Georgia and Guyana, EU diplomats were able to secure meetings with prime minister Irakli Garibashvili and president Donald Ramotar, respectively.

The on-going diplomatic push started ahead of an informal deadline of 31 March for sending national greenhouse gas reduction targets to the UN.

The targets are needed to see how much each country is willing to reduce, and whether the combined effort is enough to keep global warming limited to an increase of 2 degrees Celsius.

Armenia, Canada, Chile, Egypt, Georgia, Honduras, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Singapore are also expected to send their targets by June.

As of Tuesday (28 April), 35 countries including the US and Russia had submitted their goals – 28 of which did so collectively as the European Union.

India, which is the largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, the US, and the EU, “remains non-committed but suggests September”.

Lobbying

Meanwhile, a report in the Guardian newspaper on Monday suggested that the EU's climate goals for 2030, which were the basis for its UN submission, were watered down after lobbying from British-Dutch oil and gas multinational Shell.

In October 2014, the EU government leaders decided on a binding greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent, but chose not to make a target for renewable energy binding for member states. Goals for 2020 had included a binding renewables target.

“Shell believes the EU should focus on reduction of greenhouse gases as the unique climate objective after 2020, and allow the market to identify the most cost efficient way to deliver this target,” a Shell lobbyist wrote to then head of the commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, three years before the deal.

Without a binding renewables target, countries can opt for achieving their greenhouse gas reduction target by switching to natural gas, a fossil fuel, but less polluting than some others.

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