EU can save more CO2 than promised – but there is criticism

Frans Timmermans at the UN Climate Change Conference COP27

Frans Timmermans, Ursula von der Leyen’s deputy, is responsible for environmental and climate protection within the EU Commission.

(Photo: dpa)

Brussels The European Union is expected to emit less CO2 in 2030 than previously planned. “The EU is ready to update its national contribution,” said EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans at the world climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh.

This will be possible because the work on the climate protection laws is going better than expected. The original goal was to emit 55 percent fewer greenhouse gases in 2030 than in 1990. “As things stand now, actual emission reductions will be at least 57 percent,” said Timmermans, the commission’s climate officer.

There are four laws in particular that make this possible:

  • The land use law will oblige member states to sequester 310 megatons of CO2 through afforestation and rewetting of peatlands. The political agreement on this was reached last week.
  • The Effort Sharing Regulation will require member states to cut their emissions in sectors such as agriculture, buildings and transport by 40 percent compared to 2005 levels. This agreement was also reached last week.
  • Emissions trading is to be significantly tightened. The final negotiations are still pending. However, it is already clear that emissions in the affected sectors are to be reduced by 61 to 63 percent compared to 2005.
  • Renewable energies should cover 45 percent of end consumption by 2030. There are still open questions with this law, but the goal is no longer in dispute.

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These developments are being driven primarily by the energy crisis in the EU. Because in order to become less dependent on energy imports, the EU is relying on an even faster expansion of renewable energies and increasing energy savings. At the same time, these measures lead to savings in CO2 emissions.

Criticism from leading climate politicians

Although the EU is able to exceed the target it has set itself, there has been clear criticism from leading climate politicians. “It is far too late to increase the climate target now,” says Michael Bloss, member of the European Parliament for the Greens, to the Handelsblatt. “We would have needed a global dynamic. It doesn’t happen that way.” He blames the EU Commission for this: “Timmermans failed to forge alliances before the climate conference. We all wonder why he isn’t more active.”

It’s not just the Greens that Timmermans are tackling. “He is obviously overburdened with his current tasks,” says Peter Liese (CDU), environmental policy coordinator for the conservatives in the European Parliament.

Both politicians blame Timmermans for not forming alliances with like-minded countries before the climate conference in order to achieve a good outcome at the conference. The point here is that the announced CO2 savings are backed up by effective measures.

>> Read here: Germany demands more climate protection from everyone – but how good are we actually in a global comparison?

Liese demands that Timmermans be partially disempowered. Because the work on the climate protection laws and at the same time the representation of the EU in international climate diplomacy does not work: “We need an EU climate diplomat like John Kerry in the USA or Jennifer Morgan in Germany.”

Liese also calls for the EU’s climate target to be adjusted to a 57 percent reduction. The Greens consider 60 percent possible with what is already on the table for the expansion of renewable energies. That would mean that the EU would pass a new law, which would oblige itself to comply with the value that can now be achieved.

However, Timmermans rejects this. He was only willing to promise a reduction of 57 percent at the UN level. The difference is that a new climate law would be legally binding, meaning the EU could be sued if it failed to comply.

More: “Call for support from the rich super-emitters” – The fight for aid worth billions at the COP begins

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