Thursday

23rd Jan 2020

EU claims CO2 success ahead of key climate talks

  • "Time is rapidly running out" to act on climate change, says Stavros Dimas (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Just days before an important global conference on setting future environment targets, the EU announced it has cut the link between economic production and rising pollution and that it will meet its own international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have successfully broken the link that traditionally meant that economic growth inevitably translated into higher emissions," said EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas on Tuesday (27 November).

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

"Our emissions are currently 2 percent below [1990] levels (…) while our economy has grown by more than 35 percent over the same period."

The commissioner also said that "it is almost certain" that Europe will meet its goal of cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by 8 percent by 2012 – a target agreed and shared under the Kyoto protocol by 15 EU member states in the late 1990s.

However, the commission's pronouncement on achieving the target is dependent on getting member states to toe the green line in the coming years, with national governments' holding a patchy record on the issue.

According to Mr Dimas, the EU will cut its emissions by 7.4 percent using extra measures such as buying emissions from third countries but will only be sure of meeting its 8 percent commitment if member states agree to putting other tools in place – such as including airlines in the EU's pollution reducing scheme.

Green politicians have said that the commission's announcement covers up the fact that individual member states are not doing very well on their Kyoto commitments.

"The figures presented by the Commission show that the EU is totally reliant on developing countries for emissions reductions, with the figures far from positive as regards real emissions from EU countries," said a statement by the Greens in the European parliament.

New negotiations

But Brussels' announcement on Thursday gives the EU some of the moral clout it needs to push other countries in the world to begin negotiations on new green targets during next week's Bali international conference on climate change.

"As things stand today, Kyoto will expire [in 2012] with nothing to follow it ... We must set a deadline to reach a new agreement by the end of 2009, to give us time to bring it into force by 2012," said Mr Dimas.

Mr Dimas also urged the US – the world's biggest polluter - to "listen and be persuaded by what science tells us."

The US has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto protocol and recently argued that it would not undertake meaningful environment commitments if similar measures were not applied in fast-growing economies such as China and India.

For its part the EU next week wants to push for these emerging powerhouses – which also include Brazil, Mexico and South Africa – to "limit the emissions intensity of their economic growth."

And it wants developed countries to commit to reducing emissions by 30 percent by 2020 and by 60-80 percent by 2050.

The EU recently has undertaken a series of unilateral initiatives in order to reduce its impact on the environment, which if unchecked, could see severe droughts in southern Europe and floods in northern Europe and extensive species loss across the continent.

The initiatives include reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 as well as increasing use of renewable energies to 20 percent by the same year.

But Brussels is still struggling to completely win over EU member states who fear that other regions will gain competitive advantage by having looser environment rules.

It is already looking into initiatives such as "border tax adjustments" and "sectoral agreements" to ensure that its own high energy industry is not disadvantaged by having to follow stricter green targets.

EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail

European counter-intelligence services need to "seriously raise the level of vigilance" on Russian spies, UK activist Bill Browder has said after news of a botched operation at Davos.

Column

What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?

The Libya case might finally give the EU some strategic clarity. This sounds like a small thing, but EU foreign policy is in such bad shape that it would be a big leap forward.

Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?

Some say GDPR is the most developed data protection law in the world, but the US has opted for a very different approach - a "voluntary tool" based on privacy risk management.

Exclusive

Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe

A Polish official seeking to become president of the European Economic and Social Committee, a minor EU institution, could face Belgian charges for psychological harassment after the EU's anti-fraud office Olaf alerted authorities.

Opinion

Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?

The European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance demands Germany give up its resistance to the Anti-Discrimination Directive and suggest the commission and centre-right parties exert further pressure on Polish and Hungarian authorities to improve conditions for the LGBT+ community and people.

News in Brief

  1. UK watchdog unveils online child-privacy standards
  2. Alleged 'bully' nominated for EESC presidency
  3. Greens/EFA fail to agree on accepting Catalan MEPs
  4. MEPs approve over 55 gas projects for EU funding
  5. Italy deputy PM Di Maio quits as Five Star party leader
  6. EU investment bank to keep pressure on Turkey over gas
  7. 'Rare' migrant boat from Belgium to UK sinks
  8. First annual rule of law report expected this year, Reynders said

Column

What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?

The Libya case might finally give the EU some strategic clarity. This sounds like a small thing, but EU foreign policy is in such bad shape that it would be a big leap forward.

Opinion

Brexit - Europe's 'Versailles moment'?

The spectre of another peace agreement looms: that of the doomed Versailles treaty, which, by sowing resentment and perpetuating misunderstanding of each other's true ambitions and principles, created more tensions than it dissolved.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail
  2. What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?
  3. EU commission 'lacks ambition' on future conference
  4. Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?
  5. Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe
  6. Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?
  7. US retiree, scammed by former EU official, awaits justice
  8. Vienna-Brussels night train returns amid EU green talk

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us