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Climate: the European Union, far from its “fair share” | COP28: climate summit in Dubai

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Nov28,2023

Climate&nbsp ;: the European Union, far from its

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The European Union Although it has made progress in implementing its climate plan in 2023, the position that its delegation will defend at COP28 is not considered strong enough to ensure that warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to environmental defense organizations.

Approved by the Council of the European Union, the EU's negotiating position at COP28 on climate change includes a call to raise the level of ambition so that the 1.5°C target, set by the Paris Agreement, remains “within reach”. The 27 Member States intend to insist that the plans deployed by countries to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are insufficient.

The European Union is no exception to this observation, points out Colin Roche, energy and climate justice coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe.

Over the past year, the EU has amended and adopted several legislative elements of its Green Deal, including one package of proposals brought together under the name “Fit for 55” in honor of the 2030 target, which aims to reduce GHG emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels. This goal, established in the summer of 2021 , is included in the European Climate Law.

While the European Union has been able to make progress and put in place legally binding policies over the past 12 months, the result still falls short of the efforts that must be made to avoid exceeding the critical threshold of 1.5°C. , according to Colin Roche.

COP28: climate summit in Dubai

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This will not allow Europe to take on its fair share of climate action, he said, stressing that climate change is increasingly affecting EU populations. Yes, we're making progress, but it's not going fast enough.

Of the same opinion, Silvia Pastorelli, head of climate and energy campaigns at Greenpeace EU, believes that the commitments that the EU will promote in Dubai during COP28 remain insufficient. We have a climate law that sets GHG reduction and carbon neutrality targets [for 2050], but the science shows us that these targets are not consistent with what must be accomplished to meet the Climate Accord. Paris and limit the increase in temperature.

Among the measures of the “Fit for 55” package adopted this year, the “Fit for 55” package adopted this year; European Union has revised its emissions trading system, a pillar of its climate plan which limits the volume of GHGs which are emitted in particular by energy-intensive industrial sectors.

Under its reform, emissions from heating buildings and road transport will now be subject to a carbon market.

The EU also committed to tripling energy production capacity from renewable sources and doubling the rate of improvement in #x27;energy efficiency by 2030.

If all the “Fit for 55” measures are adopted and implemented in the 27 member countries, the European Union could even surpass its 2030 target, according to the recent Emissions Gap Report 2023 (New window) from the United Nations Environment Program.

All these policies make it possible to reach a higher level of ambition, notes Tom Delreux, expert in EU environmental policies and professor of political science at the Catholic University of Louvain, in Belgium. None of these policies adopted this year weaken the regulatory framework, he adds.

If we compare the European Union to the rest of the world, it is one of the players with the most ambitious regulatory framework in terms of climate, underlines Mr. Delreux. Between 1990 and 2021, GHG emissions in all 27 states decreased by 30%.

The European Union is one of the best students, but even being among the best students is not ambitious enough to ensure that the objectives […] of the Paris Agreement are achieved.

A quote from Tom Delreux, professor of political science at the UC de Louvain

In Dubai, EU will advocate for phasing out fossil fuels without mitigation (“unabated“) and for reaching a peak in their consumption during this decade.

At the end of COP27, which took place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the final declaration did not include explicit mention of phasing out all fossil fuels. Rather, it mentioned the importance of accelerating efforts to gradually reduce coal-fired electricity production.

According to Colin Roche, Europe has already come a long way in moving away from coal and must now have a game plan for oil and gas. Otherwise we will find ourselves faced with a vacuum which the industry will happily use as permission to continue to dig wells and pollute, he believes.

We want the EU to set a deadline for phasing out fossil fuels. It will have to stop using it well before 2050 and well before developing countries, because of our historical responsibility for climate change.

A quote from Colin Roche, Energy and Climate Justice Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Europe

In his report, the The United Nations Environment Agency notes that increased investment in gas infrastructure and the temporary shift from gas to coal pose a threat to the European Union's climate ambition.

That does not mean that we demand a solution for tomorrow, but it would be necessary to have a road map in order to ensure a rapid and fair transition, says Silvia Pastorelli.

Energy insecurity, which rose to the top of concerns in 2022 in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has given gas a new lease of life instead of a wasteland. lead to its abandonment, she adds.

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The Salzgitter AG steelworks, one of Europe's largest steel producers

The crisis has nevertheless given an impetus within the EU for Member States to adopt policies in line with the objectives of the Green Deal, nuance for his part Matthias Duwe, climate director of the Ecologic Institute, a think tank based in Berlin, Germany. He cites as an example the REPowerEU plan, adopted in May 2022, which aims to free the EU from its dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

In response to this crisis, coal burning nevertheless increased and new infrastructure, such as liquefied natural gas terminals, was financed, Duwe agrees. The risk, he says, is that some of the money will no longer be available for clean technologies if it is invested in fossil fuel infrastructure.

If it were better invested, adds Ms Pastorelli, this money could be used to resolve the problems of energy poverty which affect nearly 10% of European Union citizens. Around 42 million people were unable to adequately heat their homes in 2022, according to data from the European Economic and Social Committee, the EU's advisory body.

It's not just about climate and energy efficiency; it’s irresponsible towards [EU] citizens,” says Silvia Pastorelli. Instead of financing the use of fossil fuels, these sums should allow the implementation of proven solutions, such as energy-efficient renovations and the installation of heat pumps.

Across EU Member States, some countries have encountered resistance to climate policies from elected officials or citizens.

This is the case in Germany, where a bill to ban all heating systems powered by fossil fuels has sparked discontent for months. Under pressure from the liberal FDP, members of the government coalition, the text was watered down before finally being adopted last September.

However, these turmoil did not result in a weakening of the position defended by the European Union, according to Mr. Duwe. According to him, the European delegation can present itself at COP28 with its head held high.

This divide between the most progressive countries, like Denmark, and the countries more conservative, like Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic, on climate issues is not new, adds Tom Delreux.

These differences, he points out, do not compromise the EU's ability to find common ground between states.

The EU's position at COP28 on the exit from fossil fuels reflects these compromises, according to Mr. Delreux. The abandonment of fossil fuels “without mitigation” is a position halfway between those who wish to achieve the energy transition and those who want to put the brakes on it, he says in substance.

This is what we call “constructive ambiguity”, which still allows us to progress, he explains -he. This is very typical of the EU.

With 27 States to rally around common positions, it is inevitable that the cruising speed will differ from one country to another, recognizes Colin Roche. Despite some more refractory countries, the need to fight climate change is, according to him, a consensus among Europeans.

Despite everything, that's not enough. The level of ambition is not there. And that's the [most distressing] observation: even when we see an effort to move forward, it's not enough.

A quote from Colin Roche, Energy and Climate Justice Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Europe

After a year marked by extreme heat waves and forest fires, the European Union will have to find a way to maintain its image as climate leader in the face of the international community gathered in Dubai, according to Silvia Pastorelli.

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Former Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra will attend COP28 in Dubai as EU climate commissioner for the first time.

This is the challenge that will fall in particular on the new environment commissioner, the former Minister of Finance of the Netherlands Wopke Hoekstra. The background of this former Shell and McKinsey employee, however, shows that he was never really concerned about the climate issue, maintains Ms. Pastorelli. So this will be a test.

If the European Union wants to be a leader during these negotiations, it must see this COP as the x27;one of the last opportunities to act to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5°C, she insists. The crisis is neither elsewhere nor in the future: it is here and now.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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