100 days since Paris, 3 missed EU climate opportunities
While the first 100 days are often seen as a key time to act, and despite climate action in a range of countries from Canada to China – as well as unprecedented public support, most recently seen for Earth Hour - the EU has chalked up a hat-trick or more of misses on climate ambition.
Having ended Paris triumphant at getting efforts to keep temperature rise to 1.5degC - as well as five-yearly reviews of national climate plans - into the final agreement, it seems the EU mislaid its climate ambition on the way back to Brussels.
Missed opportunities since Paris include:
- The EU energy security package. Despite the fact that renewable energy and energy efficiency are the most efficient and low-cost ways of keeping the lights on and should have been at the heart of the paper, this regulation, published in February, focused above all on the role of gas and new gas infrastructure.
- European Commission paper on Paris’ impact on EU policy. This paper in February was the Commission’s opportunity to push for more ambition to reflect the Paris agreement, particularly on the EU 2030 targets. Instead, the Commission put off any review of the targets until 2023.
- The European Council on Paris’ impact on EU policy. Several EU environment ministers called strongly for EU climate ambition in early March. Yet the heads of states’ planned follow-up discussion was side-lined to a mere paragraph in their conclusions last week, which did no more than reiterate the Commission’s weak paper (see above).
It is essential that the EU steps up its game this year, both in terms of the big picture and the details. Continuing to work towards 80-95% greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 is no longer enough following Paris. The 2050 goal must be strengthened in line with aiming for 100% renewables, and with it the EU’s 2030 renewables, greenhouse gas emissions and efficiency targets.
The upcoming reform of the Emissions Trading System and reviews of the Effort-Sharing Decision and Energy Efficiency Directive, not to mention the planned renewable energy directive for 2030, are more opportunities for EU climate ambition.
The best way for the EU to throw off its post-Paris hangover is to ensure the next 100 days bring sober and meaningful actions for the climate which finally reflect the promises made last December.