Saturday

22nd Feb 2020

EU 'regrets' Trump U-turn on clean power

  • Trump said his decision will end a “war on coal” (Photo: Kris Duda)

The European Union's climate chief has expressed “regret” at US president Donald Trump's executive order on Tuesday (28 March) aimed at ending policy that sets limits to how much greenhouse gas emissions American power plants can emit.

“We regret the US is rolling back the main pillar of its climate policy, the clean power plan,” said EU commissioner for climate action, Miguel Arias Canete.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • EU embraces China on climate. Canete (l) is meeting Xie Zhenhua, Special Representative of China for Climate, on Wednesday (Photo: European Commission)

“Now, it remains to be seen by which other means the United States intends to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement.”

The US promised in France in 2015 that it would reduce its emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005.

The clean power plan was a core part of achieving that goal. Without it, meeting the climate targets will be “virtually impossible” for the US to meet its target said Bob Ward, a policy and communications director at the London School of Economics' climate change institute, according to AFP.

According to Trump, his decision will lead to “a new era in American energy and production and job creation” and will end a “war on coal”. Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels.

Trump signed the decree flanked by coal miners.

But miners have mostly been losing jobs due to automation and critics doubt that Trump's move will put them back in work.

It is yet unclear whether the US will completely pull out of the 2015 Paris agreement, which aims to curb emissions so that the Earth's temperature rise will halt at 2 degrees Celsius, or preferably at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Beyond 2 degrees Celsius, scientists believe that the planet's climate will be disrupted in such a way that some currently liveable parts of the world become uninhabitable.

China

Meanwhile, the EU has sought and found a new partner in the fight against climate change: China.

“Others may roll back, but the EU and China will forge ahead with the Paris agreement and the clean energy transition,” said climate commissioner Canete.

Canete is in Beijing on Wednesday to meet China's special representative for climate change and the administrator of China's National Energy Administration.

China is in the process of setting up its own emissions trading system, partly modelled on the EU's carbon permit exchange .

Trump 'will lose'

On Tuesday, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan told journalists in Brussels that even though Trump “may not accept climate change”, all the world's other countries “will go along, including China” with the Paris agreement.

“I think he is going to lose [on his climate U-turn],” Annan said about Trump, without elaborating how this would happen.

Last week, at an energy conference in Berlin, Trump's views on climate change were also a topic of debate.

Swiss solar power enthusiast Bertrand Piccard said that Trump's pro-coal attitude was outdated.

“I believe if you want to make a country great again, you have to see what creates money and what creates jobs,” said Piccard, who was one of the pilots to fly a fully solar-powered flight around the world for the first time.

“Twenty years ago, even 10 years ago, the answer would not have been the same. Today the answer is clearly that you create more jobs and you make more profit if you use renewable energy, and if you use clean technology to save energy,” said Piccard.

Climate First

Focussing on the business case of clean energy is also part of the European Union's strategy towards Trump.

“The clean energy transition does not run counter to economic interest, as often claimed,” said EU energy union commissioner Maros Sefcovic earlier this month.

Dutch environment minister Sharon Dijksma said, according to newspaper Nrc.next on Wednesday, that she wanted to show Trump that climate policy and economic growth could go hand in hand.

Dijksma is planning to hold a "Climate First" conference in the US and said she received support from the EU commission, Germany, France, Austria, and Luxembourg, at last month's environment ministerial meeting in Brussels.

Focus

Nordic energy boss wants to get rid of coal

Tackling climate change is a more important goal than phasing out nuclear power, says Pekka Lundmark, president and CEO of energy company Fortum.

US prevents G7 energy statement

The United States did not sign a joint statement at a G7 summit on energy because it did not want to include a reference to the Paris climate agreement.

Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU

Europe is on the verge of allowing centralisation and concentration of farming data at an unprecedented scale, with the absence of any regulation, NGO Friends of the Earth have warned.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  2. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  3. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  4. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  5. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win
  6. Belgian CEOs raise alarm on political crisis
  7. Germans voice anger on rise of far-right terrorism
  8. EU leaders' budget summit drags on overnight

What will Brexit mean for climate action in EU and UK?

The UK is leaving the EU after playing a key role in climate action - just as COP26 comes to Glasgow. With so many policy negotiations ahead, a split between London and Brussels post-Brexit could undermine the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal.

Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states

The first EU-wide climate law will be a "disciplining" exercise to implement the Green Deal - although the Polish climate minister Michal Kurtyka warned the EU Commission about the social cost of delivering the green transition.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  2. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  3. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  4. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  5. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap
  6. Sassoli repeats EU budget rejection warning
  7. Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy
  8. Unhappy EU leaders begin budget haggle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us