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EPP planning to “seriously undermine” EU climate ambition

2 October 2020 

Leaked documents from the European People’s Party (EPP) show that they are planning to “seriously undermine” EU climate ambition, a European coalition of environmental groups has said. 

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe issued the warning yesterday after the documents emerged and noted that the EPP is calling for the use of international offsets, which would ultimately allow European polluters to continue “business as usual”. 

Supporting such a proposal would be a “major step backwards” from the current Parliament’s position on the 2030 climate target, according to CAN Europe. 

The proposal risks going as low as the “already, alarmingly insufficient” at least 40 per cent domestic emission cuts target the Commission had initially proposed, they added. 

Last month, the European Commission proposed a new target of “at least” 55 per cent emissions reduction within the coming decade. 

The European Parliament is set to vote on the bloc’s Climate Law this coming Tuesday and political groups have started to table amendments to be integrated into the final Law. 

The EPP group is one of the largest blocs within the European Parliament and counts Fine Gael as one of its members. 

If the group is thinking of copying the Swiss approach, which attributes a large amount of its emission reduction to the purchasing of international carbon credits, then it would actually be possible “to keep domestic emission reductions at the current inadequate 40 per cent target”, CAN Europe Director Wendel Trio said. 

“Europe should take its responsibility and invest in reducing its own emissions rather than putting any extra burden on poor countries to clean up our mess”, he added. 

Increased EU 2030 target 

Increasing climate targets for the next ten years, according to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, will put the EU on track to becoming “the first climate-neutral continent” by 2050. 

“I recognise that this increase from 40 to 55 (per cent) is too much for some, and not enough for others. But our impact assessment clearly shows that our economy and industry can manage this,” she said. 

The European Green Deal, Ms von der Leyen noted, would serve as a “blueprint to make that transformation” and that every sector will have to play its part. 

The 55 per cent figure is lower than the recommendation brought forward by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, who endorse a 60 per cent target. 

However, in order to keep global temperatures in line with the 1.5 C warming goal of the Paris Agreement, emissions would need to be reduced by “at least 65 per cent”. 

This was the figure initially proposed by Jytte Guteland in April, an MEP from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. 

The 65 per cent target is also aligned with the equity principles within the Paris Agreement that are based on how much warming a state has already produced as a result of fossil-fuelled industrialisation. 

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Kayle Crosson