EU and US join forces to agree climate deal in Paris

Clare Saxon Ghauri
Reading time: 3 minutes
26 March 2014

LONDON: Today the European Union and the US committed to work together on agreeing a new global climate deal at COP21 in Paris next year, a promising sign of the power international collaboration could have in tackling climate change and securing a low carbon future.

US President Barack Obama and José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission, met in Brussels earlier today, where they pledged joint commitment to a global climate agreement at COP21 in a public statement.

The statement reinforces the regions’ previous signals that they would enforce "strong determination" towards a deal at Paris. It says: “Sustainable economic growth will only be possible if we tackle climate change, which is also a risk to global security. [...] The 2015 agreement must be consistent with science and with the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to below 2°C, and should therefore include ambitious mitigation contributions, notably from the world’s major economies and other significant emitters.”

Underscoring that they will implement existing pledges as well as prepare new mitigation contributions in early 2015, the EU and US leaders have committed to work together on:

  • accelerating mainstream adoption of sustainable and renewable energy
  • improving energy security in Europe
  • phasing out fossil fuel subsidies
  • promoting energy efficiency
  • slowing down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and limiting their use under the Montreal Protocol. 

Global action

The joint pledge comes in the middle of an important week when the world’s top scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), are meeting in Japan to release the AR5 Working Group II report this coming Monday.

Leaks of the report contain stark evidence of the impacts runaway climate change will have on businesses and communities, which should spur urgent action from leaders.

Ahead of the IPCC release, several separate reports have bolstered a sense of urgency, including the World Health Organization’s analysis which attributes 7 million deaths to pollution last year, and a UN report that reveals 2013 was the sixth warmest year on record.

EU energy independence

In his remarks on EU-US joint action today, Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President spotlighted Europe's energy independence. He said: "Our teams are going to meet already next week to discuss some issues in terms of energy cooperation between Europe and the United States.”

The topic of Europe's energy security was first raised in the media last week when the EU Council agreed to postpone further decisions on its 2030 climate and energy package until October.

Although the long-awaited opportunity to raise ambition on the EU goals was missed, the Council agreed to increase energy independence by promoting domestic sources such as renewable energy, following events in Ukraine.

By Clare Saxon

Download the joint EU-US statement

Read José Manuel Durão Barroso's remarks

The Climate Group published a five-part briefing series covering the basics of climate science before IPCC release last September. Read them here.

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