On January 20, some Members of the European Parliament have raised the prospect of the EU deepening its long-term emission reduction goals in the light of the Paris Climate Agreement.
At a plenary discussion in Strasbourg on COP21, MEPs with French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, who chaired the Paris conference, and Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, reviewed the outcome of the international climate talks in Paris.
MEP Kathleen van Brempt from Belgium said the Paris Agreement’s aspirational goal to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C would mean a more ambitious long-term EU target.
The EU has reportedly repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to a global 2C objective and in 2007 set a 2050 aim to cut its emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels, though since 2011 it has calibrated its policy via its Low Carbon Roadmap towards achieving the 80% mark, according to Carbon Pulse.
“We have to admit we took the low end, we should now go to the high end and ensure 95%,” van Brempt said, adding that this would need to be done prior to the completion of the post-2020 EU ETS reform plan, which is expected in early 2017.
MEP Ian Duncan from the United Kingdom, who is steering that ETS proposal through the parliament’s environment committee, also said the Paris deal’s reference to 1.5C meant the EU’s 2050 aim “must be reconsidered”.
Fabius said current national emission pledges would collectively achieve a global temperate rise of 3C above pre-industrial levels. He stressed that the exact wording of the 1.5C goal in the Paris Agreement was different from that of the 2C goal.
In his speech, Fabius paid tribute to the EU’s vital contribution to the success of the Paris Agreement and called on Europeans to continue their efforts to ensure that it is ratified as swiftly as possible. In the context of the implementation of the agreement, Fabius notably urged MEPs to reform the EU emissions trading system directive and to mobilise their efforts to finance the fight against climate disruption. The EU must swiftly translate its commitments into action in order to achieve the ambitious goal of reducing emissions by 40% by 2030 and further encourage companies to invest in low-carbon technologies.
Meanwhile, several MEPs reiterated calls made during the December talks in Paris about the need to address emissions from international aviation and shipping, the explicit mention of which was left out of the final agreement.