Press Release

EU’s largest climate tool must be strengthened to deliver on Paris Agreement

July 20, 2016

Joint statement from Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment (T&E) on publication of EU climate policy designed to reduce emissions across the agriculture, transport, building and waste sectors (the Effort Sharing Decision)Today, the European Commission proposed national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for EU member states in the 2021-2030 period, distributing EU-wide targets that member states agreed to in October 2014. Worryingly, the proposal includes loopholes that put the real-world delivery of the EU’s climate pledge at serious risk. Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment call on the European Parliament and member states to strengthen the EU’s largest climate legislation in line with the commitment made in Paris.

The Commission proposal – covering 60% of EU greenhouse gas emissions across non-traded sectors – would allow countries to use 100m tonnes worth of surplus allowances from the EU’s carbon market (ETS) as well as 280m tonnes worth of credits from forestry to compensate for emissions in sectors like agriculture and transport. In addition, the proposal rewards countries which will miss their 2020 targets by setting the starting point on the basis of the average 2016-2018 emissions. This leads to an inflated carbon budget for these countries which are not on track to meet their climate targets.

Loopholes would weaken proposal’s overall impact

The so-called “flexibilities” are supposed to make emission reductions more cost-efficient, but they risk becoming loopholes that allow countries to claim climate action on paper but not in reality.

“This is the first test since the signing of the Paris Agreement and the EU cannot afford it to let it fail” commented Femke de Jong, EU Policy Director at Carbon Market Watch. “The 2030 target for the non-traded sectors is only -30% which is not in line with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Worse, loopholes risk preventing the real-world delivery of this insufficient target by allowing countries to cheat their way out of their climate commitments.”

Rather than cutting emissions by at least 30 percent, the use of fake forestry credits and surplus ETS permits would lower the target for the non-traded sectors to merely 27 percent actual reductions.

William Todts, Climate Director at T&E, said: “This proposed 2030 climate law has a lot of potential. It could bind 28 countries, half a billion people, to 2030 targets that require real change. There are plenty of solutions and technologies to meet the targets in a way that benefit not just the environment, but also jobs, the economy and Europe’s energy security. The loopholes that EU governments have requested – and the Commission is giving them in this proposal – are not just unnecessary but actually damaging.”

First EU climate test since Paris

The EU and national measures – left open to members states to help achieve the climate target – can tap into the numerous possibilities in these sectors for sustainable growth and deliver concrete benefits for citizens in the form of cleaner air, better jobs, warmer houses, and less energy poverty.

Now that the proposal is out, the European Parliament and member states will start preparing their respective positions on it. “We hope that the EU will uphold its reputation as a global leader in climate action and respect its commitments both towards our global partners and the European citizens” added Femke de Jong.

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