EU Leaders Said Not Planning to Debate Climate at March Summit

  • Summit agenda said not to include talks on Paris deal outcome
  • Policy statement by EU leaders said to remain an open question

European Union leaders don’t plan to discuss at a summit next week how to follow up on a global climate deal after the bloc’s regulator stopped short of recommending tougher policies, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The summit on March 17-18 will be focused on migration, with leaders of the EU’s 28 nations trying to bridge political divisions over how to handle the refugee crisis. It’s an open question whether a written statement by the heads of state and government after their gathering will include a section on the divisive issue of climate, said the people, who asked not to be identified, citing policy.

The persistent differences among member states over how ambitious Europe should be in reducing pollution and a recommendation by the European Commission, the EU’s regulator, to focus on enacting existing emission targets strengthen the likelihood that the bloc will not toughen its policies this decade.

A draft agenda for the EU summit doesn’t currently include climate, according to a spokeswoman for the Council of the European Union, which represents EU member states. Representatives of EU governments are next scheduled to meet on Wednesday in Brussels to prepare for the gathering and discuss the draft policy statement to be adopted by the leaders, she said.

Greenhouse Gases

The commission said last week that the priority for the bloc should be implementing current rules on cutting greenhouse gases rather than moving to stricter goals in immediate reaction to the global climate deal reached in Paris in December. The EU aims to reduce the heat-trapping gases by at least 40 percent in 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

Under the United Nations deal last year, almost 200 countries agreed to work toward capping global temperature increases since pre-industrial times to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The agreement also 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.

Europe may consider a review of climate ambitions as a part of international talks in 2023 for the period beyond 2030, the commission said in a policy paper published on March 2. Environmental lobbies have called on policy makers to step up ambitions, saying that the existing goals are not enough to prevent drastic climate consequences.

A decision on climate targets requires unanimous support from EU governments. At the last meeting of EU environment ministers on March 4 member states remained divided over the need to move to stricter policies, with countries including Germany and Luxembourg advocating more effort and nations such as Italy and Hungary favoring the focus on current goals at this stage.

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