COP 21: The European Union successfully extracts a common standpoint
On the 18th of September, the 28 Member States’ environment ministers gathered in Brussels in order to prepare the 21th session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
A compromise agreement
“It is a compromise … but it will lead the way to an ambitious, robust, dynamic climate agreement” asserted Carole Dieschbourg, environment minister for Luxembourg (holder of the EU rotating presidency); welcoming the new agreement alongside with Miguel Arias Canete, EU commissioner for Energy and Climate Action. The agreement confirms the “critical importance of the 2015 Paris Conference as a historic milestone for enhancing global collective action”. The Conference will take place from the 30th of November until the 11th of December 2015. To maintain the scale of global warming underneath 2°C, the EU Member States committed themselves to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to at least 40% by 2030. The agreement recalls the EU objective to drop those emissions down to 80-95% by 2050 (compared to 1990).
Clearing a common position from the Member States on a matter as eclectic as the energy policy was not an easy battle to win. Once again, the EU had to compromise. The Polish delegation was particularly hard to convince, due to their strong coal-implemented production (and the general elections coming in November). The Polish government consequently obtain the shift from the word “decarbonisation” to “climate neutrality”, allowing technical solutions around carbon to be used (and therefore, preserving some of their coal policies). Nonetheless, the agreement was quicker to adopt than expected.
A divisive settlement
Multiple NGO’s (WWF, Greenpeace…) regretted the lack of effective measures contained in the settlement, as well as the opacity surrounding the concrete implementation of those engagements. “The EU’s position is still far from what is needed to reach an effective global deal,” declared Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Jiri Jerabek. Yet, the main goal of COP 21 is to obtain a legal measure binding all the UN Member States… An outcome the EU confirmed its wish to see achieved.
The Union is a leading force in renewable energies programs and climate efficiency. But what value can we pull out of such an agreement in the general context of the COP21, when the EU represents 9% of greenhouse gas global emissions?