Sunday

5th Jul 2020

EU climate chief pessimistic after US visit

  • The Congress: US climate legislation has all-but stalled (Photo: Wikipedia)

EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard has ended meetings with her various US counterparts dejected by uncertainty as to whether Washington will be able to pass badly-needed climate legislation in time for a summit Mexico.

"It's very, very nervous times. People don't know, will it fly or will it not fly," she told reporters in the American capital on on Thursday (18 March), a day after she had met with climate special envoy Todd Stern, climate and energy 'tsar' Carol Browner, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson and a clutch of senators and congressmen.

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 subscribe as a group

"The feeling that I got yesterday was that, well, not too many want to bet on the timing and what could be the outcome," she said.

US legislation in the climate area has all but stalled, with the Obama administration focused on a debate about healthcare and this year's mid-term elections.

Without Washington able to pass laws to match Mr Obama's international greenhouse gas emission reduction pledges, reaching a binding international deal this year by December's UN climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, will be impossible.

"What we hear coming out of the American discussion, coming out of Beijing, coming out of Delhi, maybe also Mexico, [is that] it would be difficult to get all the details set [for such a deal]," the EU commissioner said.

The US has pledged to reduce its emissions by 17 percent on 2005 levels by 2020. Most other powers however, including the EU, use 1990 as the baseline year. Using the same measuring stick, Washington would cut emissions by four percent on 1990 levels by 2020.

If the country cannot achieve even this at the congressional level, the chances of a global deal become ever more unlikely.

The Obama administration does have a plan B, should the bill be defeated.

In 2007, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency, a government regulatory body, has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Instead of legislation forcing industry to cap its emissions, the EPA could simply regulate that they must do so.

Asked about the plan B, Ms Hedegaard was not optimistic and feared that the EPA, should it choose to do so in the absence of climate legislation, would almost certainly be faced with a series of lawsuits from enterprises affected by its enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

Regions urge EU to act on 'green hydrogen'

The EU's regions urged the unlocking of the potential of hydrogen produced from renewable sources, so-called 'green hydrogen', to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Feature

The 150 random French citizens advising Macron

Some 150 randomly-picked men and women make up Emmanuel Macron's Citizens' Climate Convention. This week Macron invited them to the Élysée Palace and promised - nearly - all of their wishes would come true .

EU 'failing' on climate and gender equality

A new report on the EU's progress on the United Nations' sustainable development goals reveals the bloc is struggling on both climate change and gender inequality.

Exclusive

Lobbyists backed election of key MEP on shipping emissions

An MEP from the European Parliament's largest political group, the centre-right EPP, is tabling pro-industry amendments on a bill to regulate carbon emissions on ships. The same MEP received campaign backing and support from industry lobbyists.

Romania blasted over animal export conditions

Romania, EU's largest exporter of live farm animals to third-countries, gets singled out in the latest European Commission report for bad practices - following the drowning of more than 14,000 sheep last November.

News in Brief

  1. EU grants Remdesivir conditional authorisation
  2. French prime minister and government resign
  3. France lied on Nato naval clash, Turkey claims
  4. EU highlights abuses in recent Russia vote
  5. Belgium bids to host EU mask stockpile
  6. France shamed on refugees by European court
  7. French and Dutch police take down criminal phone network
  8. EU launches infringement case on Covid-19 cancelled trips

EU 'failing' on climate and gender equality

A new report on the EU's progress on the United Nations' sustainable development goals reveals the bloc is struggling on both climate change and gender inequality.

Green Deal

Poland's climate neutrality pledge - delayed again?

Although Friday's summit was supposed to be an opportunity for Poland to commit to climate neutrality by 2050 - like the rest of the EU - the coronavirus has postponed that discussion, with domestic elections also upcoming.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us