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04/12/2016

2050 climate targets conceal a downturn in effort

Climate & Environment

2050 climate targets conceal a downturn in effort

Civil society leaders say goodbye to Ban Ki-moon at COP22.

[UNclimatechange/Flickr]

22 countries and a number of private companies promised at COP22 to present climate plans for 2050. But in the short term, most are reluctant to increase their current objectives. EurActiv France reports.

Germany led by example at the Marrakesh climate conference, revealing a climate strategy for 2050. This may be a distant target, but it is nonetheless seen as relevant: COP22 saw the launch of the “2050 pathways platform”. So far, this coalition has been joined by 22 countries, 15 cities, 17 state or regional governments and 196 companies. France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden all joined the project, as did the EU, on behalf of the 28 member states.

“We expect this number to rise quickly and for the 2050 timescale to become the norm,” the coalition participants said.

“2050 targets have a crucial role to play in the transition, because while a good plan is no guarantee of success, not having a plan is a sure recipe for failure,” said Laurence Tubiana, the French climate ambassador, who will be in charge of this platform.

But opinion is split over the benefit that yet another climate platform can bring. For some, this proves once again that most progress has been made at local and private level, rather than by national governments.

Businesses believe market forces will save the climate

Donald Trump’s election may have caused something of an earthquake among the climate negotiators at the COP22, but the mood in the business community is considerably calmer. EurActiv France reports.

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“It is a very important, highly complex tool. At the European level, we will use the roadmaps we have already drawn up. But we need to support developing countries to enable them to participate,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU’s Climate Commissioner.

France’s Minister for Ecology, Ségolène Royal, stressed that France had fixed an objective for 2050 in its energy transition law, and so deserved its place on this platform. In fact, a 2008 French law already set the target of cutting the country’s CO2 emissions by a factor of four by 2050. But the concrete conditions for reaching this target were not specified. The 2015 energy transition law only outlines measure up to 2030.

New date or new plan?

For one IPCC expert in Marrakesh, this new platform is a poor veil for the fact that COP22 failed to drive any upward progress in countries’ climate plans.

Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks insisted Europe was ready to step in and fill the void that would be left if the United States withdraws from the negotiations. “I am sure the EU can fill the gap left by the US,” she told journalists.

But at European level, Commissioner Cañete refused to be drawn into the discussion. “What I can say is that we will do all we can for the energy transition,” the Commissioner said.

French Green MEP Yannick Jadot said, “It is deplorable that the EU is unable to mobilise. We have cut our effort in half for 2030, compared to what we have done between 2010 and 2020.” He had hoped to see the EU build on its emissions reduction successes so far: the block is on track to exceed its 2020 target of cutting CO2 emissions by 20% with the real figure expected to be closer to 30%.

The EU’s low profile at the Marrakesh climate conference did not go unnoticed, and was widely seen as a result of the Slovak presidency’s lack of motivation on the subject.

A small consolation, however, is that the next two UN climate conferences will be held in Europe. The 2017 COP will be organised by Fiji but hosted in the German city of Bonn. And Poland has offered to host the 2018 conference.

Why Europe’s climate action has been put on hold

Angela Merkel’s absence from the COP 22 is symbolic of a European climate and energy policy beset by indecision and infighting. EurActiv France reports.

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