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05/12/2016

Climate change talks fail to live up to French hopes

Climate & Environment

Climate change talks fail to live up to French hopes

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The result of last week’s EU summit talks on climate change was disappointing for France, which had hoped for a clear policy outline before next year’s UN climate summit in Paris. François Hollande says that will be the last chance for an international agreement to curb global warming. EurActiv France reports.

Regrettably for France and other climate advocates, the talks on energy and climate change at the European summit were a failure. The dossier struggled to get attention, overshadowed by talks about Russia and the Crimea crisis. Leaders failed to set targets for 2030 in the final summit conclusions.

Some progress was made, however, as France managed to ensure that the deadline for agreeing the EU’s position at the UN climate talks takes place by October 2014, instead of the beginning of 2015. This is crucial, as the agenda is a critical step in the path towards a global agreement.

>> Read: EU climate ambitions clouded by calendar issues

French President François Hollande warned that, after the UN had failed to reach an agremeent at the 2009 Copenhagen talks, “if Paris also fails, an international commitment to climate change will not be possible.”

Last week’s EU summit conclusions exposed divisions within Europe. Not only did leaders fail to mention the targeted 40% CO2 emission reductions for 2030 proposed by the European Commission and supported by many member states, but the calendar for climate change negotiations still remains vague.

“Europe is progressing, as per usual, in stages”, admitted the French president.

Hollande assured that “Europe still has the potential to prove that energy transition is healthy, good for future generations and good for the economy”, but added that an agreement on climate change in 2015 was “not a forgone conclusion”.

Heads of state will discuss the matter again in June and hope to find common ground.

France backs the Commission’s targets proposed in January 2014. It also insists on the “necessary reworking of the carbon market”, for which it has already submitted proposals.

>> Read: France puts climate, energy talks on EU summit table

François Hollande concluded that efficient energy remained a priority, and that France would incorporate this into its own law.

Positions

Karima Delli, French MEP (Green Party) claimed:

“The crisis between Russia, Ukraine and the EU is a lesson which proves once again the need for a common EU strategy on renewable energy. The heads of state and the government are irresponsible for having constantly postponed decisions on energy targets for 2030. We crucially need ambitious policies and binding agreements on renewable energy and energy economy in order to promote innovation in the EU and to reduce our dependence on raw material imports from other countries.”

Background

The European summit was supposed to be an oppurtunity for the 28 member states to agree on targets for the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework package which was presented by the European Commission on 22 January 2014.

The EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework package proposed a 40% greenhouse gas reduction target that is binding at nation state level and may not be met by carbon offsets and a 27% renewable energy target that is binding at an aggregate European level but voluntary for individual member states. There will be no consideration of any new energy efficiency target until after a June 2014 review of the Energy Efficiency Directive.

Member states remain divided on climate change: between Scandinavian and western states like France and the UK, and eastern European states, notably Poland which is Europe’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

Timeline

  • 26-27 June 2014: EU summit meeting in Brussels

Further Reading

Presidency of the Council of the European Union