EU Commission proposes INDC month early, calls for US and China to follow lead

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25 February 2015

UPDATE March 6, 2015: EU Environment Council has approved Europe's contribution to the COP21 global climate talks, to achieve at least 40% domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2030.

LONDON: Today the European Commission presented its EU Energy Union package a month earlier than planned, which in a surprise turn now forms the EU’s proposed INDC submission.

The Paris Protocol document which was released as part of the new EU Energy Union package, sets out the Commission's climate pledge for the UN talks in Paris in December and includes:

  • Carbon cuts of “at least” 40% on 1990 levels by 2030, with possible increase through offsets after COP21.
  • A global long-term target proposed of 60% below 2010 levels by 2050 – a figure which is within the IPCC’s suggested 40-70% range for a likely chance of staying below a 2 degree global temperature rise.
  • The Protocol calls for greater transparency and a system “for holding each Party accountable”.
  • Proposing that its clear and concise INDC template should be used by other nations, the Commission calls for G20 countries – China and the US in particular – to join it in leading the way by releasing their INDCs by March 31, and all G20 nations to accept “absolute” economy-wide emission targets and budgets by 2025. The bloc encourages other emerging economies and middle-income countries “to take similar steps” no later than 2030.

The INDC proposal - whether in its current form or adapted - is set to be presented before EU Environment Ministers on March 6. 

Low carbon economy

According to its plans, the EU Commission will ramp up climate action through the G7, G20 and UN General Assembly by linking climate change to “potential long-term consequences, including security challenges” and integrating it into economic and development cooperation.

A particularly powerful statement reads: “The Global transition to low emissions can be achieved without compromising growth and jobs and can provide significant opportunities for revitalising economies in Europe and globally. Climate action also brings significant co-benefits in terms of public well-being.”

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, comments: “The EU Commission proposal for COP21 Paris shows European governments recognize there isn't a trade off between climate action and the economy, and in fact see it as a source of growth, jobs and security. By proposing the INDC now, the EU is making explicit the call for other countries to present theirs as soon as possible.

“The pathway chosen by Europe is cost-effective and avoids the much bigger costs caused by climate inaction. What the Commission has presented is at the lower end of what is needed, but if all other countries show at least the same level of ambition we would be a lot closer to keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees.

“We also praise the need for increased transparency and a mechanism to review the targets. It is fundamental that global mitigation commitments can be open to respond to new scientific evidence and technologies.

“However there is little on new financing. The Green Fund has so far only just topped US$10 billion, still way too short of the US$100 billion pledged by 2020. We need to see both new government funds to support climate adaptation, resilience and mitigation, but equally if not more important, is clear policy that drives the trillions of investment that will really transform the economy.

“We have seen encouraging signals since September's Climate Week NYC and UN Climate Summit, with businesses and sub-national governments highlighting the benefits of the incoming low carbon economy. And the historic US-China deal has added spin to this momentum. Following the EU Commission's early INDC proposal, now it’s the rest of the world's turn to show how true climate leadership is done.”

As well as the Paris Protocol, the EU Energy Union package released today consists of the EU Energy Union Framework Strategy, EU Energy Union Roadmap and Electricity interconnection communication. The strategy includes new support for the EU's Efficiency First principle, which prioritizes energy savings and demand-side resources.

Sub-national leadership

The EU Commission also highlights how sub-national regions can drive low carbon growth and stronger climate targets ahead of Paris, stating: “The Protocol should stimulate a more systematic exchange of experiences within and across geographical regions, bringing together tech expertise from […] regions and municipalities”, in order to complement national efforts.

Ana Oregi, Minister for the Environment and Territorial Policy of the Basque Country, on behalf of President Urkullu, European Co-Chair of the States & Regions Alliance, comments: "Climate policy requires efforts at all decision-making levels, including local and regional level. From the international arena, in order to guarantee a global joint effort against climate change, the regional and national levels are encouraged to implement the necessary measures and raise awareness among society of the consequences of our actions

"The Climate Group State & Regions Alliance is clearly committed to contribute, with all efforts required, to the mitigation and adaptation of climate change. We are public institutions with policymaking power which are crucial in reducing as much as possible the negative effects of climate change, as well as in adapting to it.

"Transition toward a low carbon energy economy offers new growth opportunities that we should identify, new forms of development. However, the transformation of the energetic and industrial model will face resistances which we will have to know how to combine and beat convincingly. These are decisive times for the fight against climate change, and more than ever, special effort is required from all policymaking levels, where The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance is willing to play an active role."

Importantly the Commission also promises to organize an international conference “to enhance mutual understanding of the range of INDCs and adequacy of their collective ambition […] prior to Paris” this November.


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