EU Sees Current Climate Targets as Priority After Paris Deal

  • European Commission assesses outcome of global climate accord
  • Nations need mid-century strategies by 2020, EU recommends

The European Union should focus on enacting rules to meet existing climate targets for 2030 rather than move to stricter goals in immediate reaction to a global pollution-reduction agreement reached last year, according to the EU regulatory arm.

The 28-nation bloc may consider a review of climate ambitions as a part of international talks to be held in 2023 on how to deepen greenhouse-gas reductions, the European Commission said in a policy paper published on Wednesday. Under a deal reached in Paris in December, almost 200 countries agreed to work toward capping global temperature increases since pre-industrial times to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

“We have the deal. Now we need to make it real,” EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement. “For the EU, this means completing the 2030 climate and energy legislation without delay, signing and ratifying the agreement as soon as possible, and continuing our leadership in the global transition to a low-carbon future.”

EU member states remain divided on how strict the region’s emission policies should be, with Germany and France leading a push for tougher rules and Poland opposing deeper cuts of heat-trapping gases. A decision on climate targets requires unanimous support from the bloc’s governments. Environmental lobbies have called on policy makers to step up ambitions, saying that the existing targets are not enough to prevent drastic climate consequences.

Global Deal

The global deal 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. UN climate envoys are due to meet in 2018 for "facilitative dialogue" and then in 2023 for stock-taking.

“The EU should participate in the first facilitative dialogue, which will take place in 2018 to take stock of the collective ambition and progress in implementing commitments,” the commission said. “In this respect, the EU will take part in the first global stocktake in 2023, which is relevant for considering progressively more ambitious action by all Parties for the period beyond 2030.”

The European Commission will provide input for scientific work carried out internationally and will prepare an in-depth analysis of economic and social changes needed to step up pollution-reduction efforts to feed the discussion among EU governments, the European Parliament, companies, experts and non-governmental organizations. The EU aims to cut emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels and has a political goal of reducing pollution by 80 percent by 2050.

The Paris agreement should be signed and ratified by EU member states as soon as possible, according to the commission. By 2020, they should communicate their mid-century strategies on how to shift to low-carbon economies.

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