Environment ministers from around the EU met in Brussels today in an attempt to get the bloc on the same page ahead of this December’s climate summit in Paris, the idea being that a cohesive bloc could sway negotiations more than a fragmented one. As Reuters reports, member states were able to agree on an approach to Paris:
European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said Friday was a good day and ensured the 28-member EU would be “a deal-maker, not a deal-taker” in Paris, where U.N. talks begin on Nov. 30. The bloc would not sign a global pact that was not ambitious enough, he said.
There were concerns going in to these talks that coal-dependent Poland would push back on these goals, with one eurocrat admitting to Reuters ahead of the meeting that “[w]e’re going to have lots of trouble.” Those worries center around Polish parliamentary elections next month. Poland’s right-leaning Law and Justice Party (PiS) is expected to have a big day, and members of the party have already been threatening to throw a wrench in the Paris negotiations. “Any binding stance that would be accepted at the conference in Paris will be harmful to Poland, so a failure of the summit is in Poland’s interest,” said PiS parliamentarian Piotr Naimski.
But the talks produced a platform, albeit one with some compromises:
The haggling to accommodate Poland substituted a long-term goal of 60 percent versus 2010 levels with one of at least 50 percent versus 1990, which EU officials said was effectively the same.
It also switched the word decarbonisation with “climate neutrality”. Polish officials said that allowed for technological solutions, such as carbon capture and storage, to do some of the work, reducing the need to change the fuel mix.
So the EU will be heading in to Paris intent on producing a climate treaty with some reach emissions reductions targets, a provision for five-year check-ups, and language assuring the commitment towards working towards climate neutrality (rather than decarbonization, as most EU members not named Poland would have liked). Already green groups are heaping on the scorn, upset that the supposed leading green voting bloc at the Paris summit would be swayed by the concerns of one of its fossil fuel-reliant members. “The EU’s position is still far from what is needed to reach an effective global deal,” said Greenpeace EU’s energy policy adviser Jiri Jerabek.
In a way, we’re getting a look at a microcosm of the Paris negotiations. Poland was able to force through a change in language and a different emissions target. If greens are already miffed at the watering down of green ambitions, just wait until they see what happens when the developing world sits down to the negotiating table.