15 september 2014

[4C Note: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global umbrella organization for hundreds of environemtnal NGOs. Concerned Citizens against Climaate Change is affiliated with CAN-Europe.]

UN Climate Summit in New York on 23 September: CAN Europe calls for the EU and its Member States to announce real and tangible action

Climate change

Climate change is happening faster than predicted, and impacts look to be worse than predicted. Sea levels are rising, precipitation patterns are changing, sea ice is declining and oceans are acidifying - all with dramatic consequences for our communities, environments and economies.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded last year that if current emission trends are not reversed, the world’s climate will warm by up to 5°C by 2100. Adaptation to such levels of warming will simply not be possible.

Pathway to Paris

Responding to this, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is organising the 2014 Climate Summit in New York on the 23rd of September. Political leaders attending the meeting have been asked to announce the ‘bold actions’ their countries plan to take. The one-day Summit will not include negotiations between countries, but will focus on real commitments to take action.

Countries have agreed to reach a meaningful, robust, universal, legal climate agreement by 2015 in Paris. Ban Ki-moon is convening the Climate Summit to mobilise action ahead of 2015 and to increase political will for greater action and ambition.

The Paris Summit in 2015 should stand as a political turning point marking an irreversible transformation away from fossil fuels and towards a clean, just and safe climate future. The 2014 Climate Summit should lay down the seeds for the necessary increase of climate action and implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Phasing-out of global emissions by 2050

Last year, the European Parliament, in its UNFCCC Warsaw COP19 Resolution, called for phasing out all global carbon emissions by 2050.

All governments have committed to limiting global warming below 2°C. Capping emissions or slowing their growth is no longer adequate. Emissions have to be brought to zero. This reality will need to immediately impact decisions on infrastructure and send a transformational message to investors, business-leaders and decision-makers around the world.

A phase-out of global emissions is technically feasible. While more research is needed, existing scenarios (e.g. by ECOFYS) show that it is technically and economically feasible to reduce emissions to zero for roughly 90% of the current sources of greenhouse gas emissions utilizing technology available today and in the near future.

CAN Europe’s recommendations for the real and tangible actions the European Union and the EU governments should commit to at the Climate Summit

1. EU’s 2030 targets and a commitment to global decarbonisation by 2050

The EU’s best leverage to ensure a successful global agreement in 2015 in Paris will be its domestic post-2020 climate and energy policy.

The current proposal by the European Commission includes low ambition targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency (40% greenhouse gas emission cuts, at least 27 % share of renewable energy and 30% energy efficiency). The European Parliament called for more ambitious targets (at least 40% greenhouse gas emission cuts, at least 30% share of renewable energy and 40% energy efficiency) that would be broken down to binding national targets for all EU Member States.

A position by the European Council on the different elements of the policy framework such as the targets is expected by October 2014. Member States need to ensure that the 2030 targets and policies that will be put in place are sufficient to drive transformational change in the EU’s energy sector, meeting the EU’s fair share of keeping global temperature increase well below 2°C. Therefore the EU needs by 2030 to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55%, needs to increase the share of renewable energy to at least 45%, and needs to reduce projected energy consumption by at least 40%.

EU governments should announce their commitments to these 2030 targets at the Climate Summit. While recognising that a reduction of domestic emissions will not be the only contribution that will be expected from the EU to phase out global greenhouse gas emissions. The EU will need to accept, within the new international climate treaty, an obligation to take a fair share of the global effort to reduce global emissions, through domestic emission reductions and provision of financial and other support to poor countries.

At the Climate Summit, the EU and European governments should announce their commitment to the global effort of phasing out all fossil fuel emissions and phasing in a 100% renewable energy future with sustainable energy access for all, as early as possible, but not later than 2050, in line with equity and fairness.

2. Finance for global climate action and adaptation

The EU and other developed country partners must use the Climate Summit to clarify how they will deliver on their commitments to mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020. Developed countries must pledge at least $15 billion in grants as an initial resource mobilisation to be paid into the Green Climate Fund over a maximum of 3 years. The EU’s fair share of this is $5 billion. We call on EU leaders to announce pledges to the Green Climate Fund at the UN Climate Summit.

The lack of clarity on climate finance not only delay vital investments in climate action, but also threatens further progress towards the EU’s own goals in the climate negotiations.

3. Near term action before 2020

The urgency to act on climate change must be reflected in an increased commitment to take climate action in Europe in the short term. There are several actions EU Member States can initiate between now and the Paris Summit.

The EU’s current 2020 target is not in line with its own commitment to limit global warming to 2°C. Furthermore the failure to enhance domestic climate action in the near term lessens the EU’s credibility internationally. The EU’s 20% target for 2020 has been achieved already, almost eight years in advance, and the EU is on a pathway close to 30% domestic reductions by 2020. The EU should commit to a domestic reduction target of at least 30% by 2020.

The EU should agree to tackle the oversupply of emission allowances head on, and implement a structural reform of the ETS. Removing at least 2.2 billion of emission allowances from the market will reinstall a decent carbon price and enable the ETS to play its intended role in driving low- carbon investment.

Member States can accelerate the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive so as to ensure the target to reduce Europe's energy consumption by 20% by 2020 will be reached. Furthermore Member States need to encourage further investments in renewable energy and ensure renewable energy support schemes are supportive to the further development of renewable energy in their countries.

The EU should agree on the development of an Emissions Performance Standard for power stations that allows for the phase-out of the use of coal in Europe. The EU Member States should speed up the implementation of their commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

For any questions please contact Ulriikka Aarnio Senior Policy Officer at Climate Action Network Europe,, +32 2 894 46 74

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