At the European summit on October 15 and 16, European leaders were to decide on a new EU greenhouse gas reduction target, more ambitious than the previous one. The European Commission proposes a reduction of at least 55% of European emissions by 2030 compared to the 1990 level, against a target of 40% currently. The European Parliament is calling for a drop of at least 60%, closer to that of 65% which, according to scientific data, would allow us to contain the warming to 1.5 ° C.
The heads of state have finally decided nothing, postponing their decision to a future summit, scheduled for December 10 and 11. Back on what happened, with Neil Makaroff, of the Climate Action Network (Rac).
Could we hope the states would decide to stop on a new goal at the end of this summit?
Neil makaroff It wasn’t necessarily obvious, but yes. Angela Merkel, who has chaired the European Union since July, wanted to reach an agreement in October. It is true that several countries said they had run out of time to study the documents submitted by the Commission, and asked for a postponement of the vote until December. But just before the Summit, eleven countries, including France, had written, in a joint letter, their desire to achieve a reduction of “at least 55%” in greenhouse gas emissions, and their wish to ” act on this objective now. More surprisingly, the Czech Republic had also rallied to this ambition, which is usually on the side of those who slow down progress in this area.
What convinced the Czech Republic to defend the 55% target?
Neil makaroff It was ready to say OK, but on the condition of obtaining a reform of its state aid that would allow it to free up its nuclear investment capacity. This is a bit hypocritical, since the development of such an energy sector will take more than ten years. It will therefore be ineffective for the 2030 target.
55% reduction in emissions was considered a minimalist objective. In the end, is postponing the decision really unwelcome?
Neil makaroff In any case, it is risky. From this October summit, there was a way to hope for better. Three countries – Denmark, Sweden and Finland – were pushing to raise the ambition to a 60% or even 65% drop in emissions by 2030, which is close to what science recommends to limit global warming to 1 , 5 ° C. They had taken this decision in the space of a week, in the wake of the parliament’s vote on the subject. Who knows what we still could have won …
The postponement to December leaves even more time for this …
Neil makaroff Hopefully, this deadline is also very risky. Europe is obliged to step up its ambitions in the fight against global warming before the end of 2020. This is a commitment that was made under the Paris Agreement and which concerns all countries. China has done so, announcing its desire to achieve carbon neutrality in 2,060 and that its emissions peak in 2030. It has changed international dynamics and put Europe under pressure.
That said, by postponing its decision until December, it no longer leaves itself any room for maneuver. This next summit will be his last chance. This is all the more worrying as many files should have started to be discussed now and have not been. The implementation of a carbon tax at borders, the reform of the European carbon market and the issue of financing for transition assistance are decisive subjects that several countries are weighing up in the negotiations. These will not be able to succeed without being resolved. By December, we will be witnessing marathon negotiations …
Poland and other eastern countries have a lot to lose, economically, from a significant drop in CO2 emissions. Can we consider rallying them to such an ambition without substantial support?
Neil makaroff Obviously no. Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have economies that are extremely dependent on coal. For them, the industrial transition to be made to decarbonize their system is enormous. The Just Transition Fund, set up in Europe to support countries in this process, is a good mechanism, quite well calibrated for this, but still too scarce. At the moment, he only has 17 billion euros, which is low.
Is the risk of getting nowhere in December real?
Neil makaroff There is, in any case. But Europe is under international pressure, especially since we will be on the eve of the 5 e anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement. If it does not manage to conclude on an increase in its climate objectives, that will really bode well.