EU pressured to do more in negotiations at COP25 climate summit

One year after the COP24 in Katowice, the EU's struggle with tieing some members, like Poland, to its climate project continues.

The fate of the climate negotiations at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid depends heavily on Europe. And civil society, the financial and private sector are asking for more. EURACTIV France reports.

In the hall of the Madrid Trade Fair Centre, where most of the states involved in the fight against climate change have reserved a spot, it is difficult to overlook a geographical incongruity. While most EU member states are grouped together, Poland has set up shop next to the US, showing resistance to climate ambition.

One year after the COP24 in Katowice, the EU’s struggle with tieing some of its members, like Poland, to its climate project continues. However, Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission is keen to show that the EU has shifted gears on this issue.

“The big news at this COP is the EU: there is a new team, a new Green Deal, and the fact that carbon is becoming central to European policies is completely new,” said Laurence Tubiana, head of the European Climate Foundation.

Tubiana also acknowledged that although the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050 is a given, the question of a just transition remains a question mark to convince Poland or the Czech Republic.

Revolt brewing against EU’s ‘unrealistic’ climate goals

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has threatened to veto Europe’s goal of becoming the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050, adding his voice to a growing chorus of discontent as EU leaders prepare for heated climate discussions at a summit in Brussels next week.

This issue should be decided at the European Council next Friday.

While 65 states, including the 27 EU member states, have already announced that they will raise their climate ambitions for 2020, observers blame the EU’s timetable for lacking ambition. The European Commission plans to review its climate commitment in October 2020, just before the next COP, which would not pressure other countries.

“To have a strong agreement between the Parliament and member states, it will take time. This is inevitable,” said Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who nevertheless stated he is ready to become an EU climate ambassador by “going to all the countries that want to discuss their climate plans”.

The vice-president believes that the EU-China relationship will be crucial to raising ambition in 2020.

Strong mobilisation of civil society

The mobilisation of civil society is also increasingly urgent.

According to a Eurobarometer survey published on Monday (9 December), the climate is the European priority that comes up most often when citizens are asked about the European Parliament.

It is the first time the topic has triumphed, with 59% of Europeans now being convinced that engaging young people on climate issues could influence the EU.

On Monday, 631 investors representing $37 trillion in assets under management called on governments to implement the Paris Climate Agreement as soon as possible.

The same is true for companies, one group of which is calling on the EU to quickly confirm the objective of net-zero emissions, at least by 2050. The group, which includes companies like Unilever, EDF, Ikea and Acciona, is also demanding that the EU increase its ambition to reduce CO2 emissions by 55% by 2055.

“Companies have a responsibility to act to help manage climate change, and a number of them are already doing so. But we need to accelerate,” said Unilever CEO Alan Jope.

COP25 news and views: What’s happening in Madrid

As UN climate negotiations enter their second and decisive week, EURACTIV gives you a glimpse into the goings on of the 25th climate conference in Madrid (COP25) and what is driving the conversation there. In this edition: train ride, ray of the day, reality check-point, and climate finance big time.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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