Europe Eyes Drafting Climate Strategy for Mid-Century by 2019

  • EU regulator assesses outcome of Paris deal in draft document
  • Draft shows 2030 emission-cut goal could be reviewed in 2020

The European Union may draft by 2019 a climate strategyfor the middle of the century after countries worldwide meet a year earlier to discuss how to step up pollution-reduction efforts under a United Nations deal, according to a draft EU document.

The European Commission may start work on the strategy this year, according to its draft assessment of the Paris climate agreement to be discussed by EU leaders at their March 17-18 summit. It would take into account the result of global climate-ambition talks scheduled for 2018, offering an analytical basis for a potential review of the EU 2030 climate targets in 2020, according to the draft obtained by Bloomberg.

Europe aims to lead the global fight against greenhouse gases, which analysts blame for heating up the planet. EU leaders pledged to cut emissions domestically by at least 40 percent in 2030 compared with 1990 levels, leaving the possibility of tougher reductions open if other countries show comparable efforts. Under a deal reached in Paris in December, nations agreed to work toward capping global temperature increases since pre-industrial times to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

“These provisions will not require a near-term revision of the EU’s proposed target,” according to the commission’s draft assessment. “However, the Paris agreement will help create the political conditions under which the EU could consider strengthening its plans, as part of a global effort at increasing ambition.”

Global Deal

The global deal, whose outcome EU leaders will discuss at next month’s summit in Brussels, acknowledges the need to strive for limiting the temperature growth to 1.5 degrees, a key demand of the countries most vulnerable to warming, including island states imperiled by rising seas. The EU strategy should include the analysis of such a target, the commission said in the document.

The commission, which has a policy of not commenting on draft documents, is due to publish the assessment in the first week of March.

A decision to deepen Europe’s emission-reduction goal would require unanimous support by EU heads of government and translating the political agreement into legislation to be approved by the European Parliament and member states. The bloc is currently working on draft laws to implement the 40 percent target for 2030 after EU leaders approved it in October 2014.

While there is no requirement that the EU move to a stricter target for 2030 in 2020 as part of the global mechanism to step up pollution-reduction efforts, the bloc could demonstrate enhanced ambitions in several ways, according to the commission draft. Those could include additional information on its approach to accounting for land or on how it could use imported emission-cut credits under a new UN market tool, the Sustainable Development Mechanism. The use of international carbon markets provides a means for the EU to go beyond its domestic greenhouse-gas reduction goal, the commission said.

“Given the mixed experience in the past with the environmental integrity and the governance of the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU should take a decision on the complementary use of the new Sustainable Development Mechanism once the detailed design” has been fully decided, according to the draft.

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