European leadership for global climate action
European leadership for global climate action
The United Nations Climate Conference COP26 was held in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021. Progress was made on finalising the Paris Agreement rulebook, strengthening the commitment to limit global heating to 1.5C and introducing new emission commitments, funding pledges and international initiatives. However, recognising the climate emergency we are facing and the justified calls for urgent action by youth, indigenous peoples and frontline communities in particular, this outcome is by far not enough.
After most countries updated their 2030 emissions targets (Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs), the world is still heading towards a global heating of 2.5°C, spelling disaster for people and ecosystems around the world. If long term net zero targets were also fully implemented, this might keep us slightly below 2°C – but still worryingly far from 1,5°C.
While we welcome the greater ambition from the EU and other European countries, current commitments still fall short of doing our fair share to limit global heating to 1.5°C. To bridge the gap, the EU must cut emissions by at least 65% by 2030 compared to 1990 and reach climate neutrality by 2040 at the latest.
Europe has an urgent responsibility to lead with significant cuts in emissions. However, European action alone is not enough to solve a global problem. All countries must do their fair share to reduce emissions, with the largest and historic polluters and wealthier countries taking the lead. Countries that are furthest from pathways compatible with 1.5°C – such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, China and India – must ramp up the ambition of their NDCs more than most. Improved NDCs are needed by the end of 2022. On the other hand, Europe must also acknowledge that a part of our ecological footprint is outsourced to for example China and therefore a change in the European consumption model is necessary.
International climate cooperation must always be guided by climate justice and solidarity. The most affected people and areas (MAPA) must be put at the centre of this.
The European Green Party calls on the EU and European countries to take the following measures to radically strengthen international climate action:
1. Boost climate diplomacy. Although UN climate conferences attract a lot of attention, much of the hard work takes place between them. Europe must make sure that climate action is integrated into all bilateral and multilateral meetings and international organisations at the highest level. We must also ensure the participation of young people, most affected people and people coming from the most affected areas.
2. Negotiate a treaty to phase out fossil fuels. An international Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is needed to ensure an end to new coal, oil and gas production, while phasing out existing production of and subsidies to fossil fuels in a time frame consistent with limiting global heating to 1.5°C. Europe must end all public financing of fossil fuels, advocate for the same in international financial institutions and other organisations as well as make sure the EU taxonomy strongly directs private investment to sustainable solutions which excludes gas and nuclear power. Furthermore, a just transition for people in the industry in Europe and beyond must be ensured.
3. Climate-proof trade. No new trade treaties can be adopted without sufficient sustainability provisions, including that between the EU and Mercosur countries in its current form. Existing agreements that are not fit for purpose – such as the Energy Charter Treaty – must either be renegotiated or abandoned.
4. Address international transport. The EU and all countries should include emissions from international aviation and shipping (including fisheries) in their NDCs. Europe should take the lead by extending emissions trading to cover all shipping and aviation emissions. In parallel, Europe should push for stronger climate action at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
5. Increase international climate finance. Wealthy countries need to deliver and go beyond the USD100 billion of climate finance promised to the Global South and agree on a more ambitious target from 2025 onwards recognising their historic responsibility in heating the climate. Public funding must be additional to existing funds for development assistance or otherwise and mainly grant-based, with sub-goals for mitigation, adaptation, and support to the most vulnerable countries and communities, for example by pushing for fair loss and damage financing for MAPAs. Additionally, Europe must promote debt-for-climate swaps with countries in the Global South.
6. Ramp up technology cooperation. While the world can and must cut emissions rapidly with existing technologies, innovation can enable deeper emission reductions at a lower cost. Europe must also facilitate technology transfer to those countries most in need. We call for the development of mechanisms to publicly fund the intellectual property rights for key climate solutions.
7. Make polluters pay. Carbon pricing – be it in the form of taxes or trading – is an important tool as part of a broader regulatory framework to decarbonise our economies. Yet, when it is applied, the price is often too low to deliver substantial emission reductions. Within the EU, Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) should be strengthened to ensure heavy polluters pay the real price of carbon for society, and revenues should be fully redistributed to the people and by increasing the innovation and Modernisation Funds ensuring that vulnerable people and communities are not left behind. We also support the introduction of a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) as a way of pursuing higher ambition both within the Union and in third countries and we regret the lack of ambition in the Commission’s proposal. Mechanisms such as carbon pricing and CBAM should not unfairly burden poorer countries. Free ETS permits should cease to be granted to EU industries as soon as the CBAM is fully in place, and the revenues generated through carbon pricing should be reallocated to support a green and just transition and also serve to increase international climate finance.
8. Protect climate activists. Civil society organisations and people’s movements, with youth climate activists and indigenous environmental defenders taking the lead, have often been met with harassment, discrimination and abuse. Europe must stand up for the right to speak up for our common climate, including defending the people who defend our climate and protecting the right to challenge decisions.