23rd Jul 2019

EU to voice worry on speed of climate talks

  • Information stand about Paris climate summit in Bonn, site of preparatory negotiations (Photo: UNFCC)

EU environment ministers on Friday (18 September) are expected to express their concern over the speed of climate talks ahead of a crucial conference in Paris this year, but they are in disagreement over whether to say if Europe's level of green ambition may be raised.

The ministers will note “the considerable amount of work still ahead in order to reach the Paris outcome”, and express their concern “about the lack of substantial progress on the negotiating text up to now”, according to a draft version of the meeting's conclusions, seen by EUobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The summit will be “a historic milestone for enhancing global collective action and accelerating the global transformation to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society”, the draft text says.

However, there are some outstanding issues.

At a Brussels summit in October 2014, EU government leaders agreed that the climate goals, which include reducing by “at least 40 percent” greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, could be changed depending on the outcome of international climate negotiations in Paris.

This agreement to keep the EU's climate goals “under review” provides the possibility both to increase ambition, and to scale back, in the event of a failure in Paris.

The option to downsize climate goals was a desire from several EU member states which are highly dependent on fossil fuels for their energy, like Poland, who fear that if EU sets too strict targets, it may undermine its competitiveness with the rest of the world.

“Some delegations would like to signal that the EU and its Member States retain the possibility to increase the level of mitigation ambition”, the internal document notes, referring to the option to boost the 2030 climate targets agreed at a summit in October 2014.

The document adds that a “group of delegations is opposed” to mentioning the possibility of higher ambition.

An EU source confirmed the constellations of countries are along a similar line to those ahead of the 2014 summit, and ahead of another debate to determine the EU's climate contribution to the UN.

He said those countries opposed argue that the timing of raising ambition now would be wrong, because it would be like putting all your cards on the table ahead of the game.

The contact also noted that upcoming elections in Poland next month will be on everyone's mind.

“The Polish minister cannot accept anything that goes beyond previously agreed EU positions”, the source said.

The centre-right opposition party, Law and Justice, is doing well in the polls. But one of its MPs, Piotr Naimski, recently said he hoped Paris would fail.

“If there is no agreement at the global level, there will be no reason for the current EU regulations on CO2 emission reductions to be maintained. This should mean that they will renegotiable”, Naimski said according to Reuters.

Long-term vision?

Another issue which will be on the table Friday is whether to include a point in the future by which fossil fuels should be completely phased out.

Climate scientists in their latest report concluded that greenhouse gas emissions should be near zero by 2100, a long-term goal which was politically embraced by G7 leaders last Summer.

The paper said that “most delegations” - so, not all - are “supportive of or open to the idea of including a long-term vision for global decarbonisation/climate neutrality”.

The EU source said there are two more or less evenly sized groups of countries that are at loggerheads of whether to write down a numerical long-term target.

'Snail's pace'

In December, the world's countries will convene in Paris to conclude the first binding climate treaty since 1997.

Towards the end of a recent round of talks in Bonn, some negotiators complained about the speed of progress - UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon was quoted using the term "snail's pace".

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres rejected the criticism at a press conference earlier this month.

“I'm not entirely sure that there is one pace that is ideal for everyone under all circumstances. There is no such thing, as an objective pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, Figueres said.

EU agrees common position for climate summit

Environment ministers agreed to demand a 50% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 and a review mechanism in case of an agreement at the upcoming climate conference in Paris.


EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'

The EU Commission will now spend €3.4m next year to rent cars for emissions testing - after EUobserver revealed that models loaned by the manufacturer were then subject to commercial confidentiality clauses.

News in Brief

  1. Agriculture MEPs elect far-right vice-chair
  2. Johnson is next British prime minister
  3. Johnson set to be announced British PM on Tuesday
  4. UK-based owners of .eu domains could keep name
  5. Weyand: EU would respond to US tariffs on cars
  6. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  7. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  8. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'
  2. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  3. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  4. Abortion Wars
  5. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  6. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  7. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  8. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us