European Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete has outlined the EU’s plans for a long-term strategy to combat climate change.
The commissioner began his speech by stressing the need to define a long-term strategy to combat climate change as soon as possible, warning that the EU needs to define its direction long before 2030 or 2040, when climate change goals and targets have been agreed.
In recognition of this urgency, the commission intends to finish and adopt its long-term strategy to combat climate change before COP24, which will take place in Katowice, Poland in December. This event will mark the third annual meeting since the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement at COP21 in Paris, France, and will assess progress that global powers have made in meeting their binding climate change targets.
What will the EU’s long-term strategy involve?
Fundamentally, Cañete explained that the new strategy, due to be released in November, will not be a legal proposal, and will not establish new targets or suggest improvements to policy instruments. Instead, it will identify the areas which will be priorities for the commission in meeting its targets, and for growth in terms of their ambition.
This is partly in response to the fact that the results of a study on the EU’s energy efficiency and emissions suggested that, with targeted reductions and strategies, the bloc could significantly increase its level of ambition. Cañete explained that “the European Union could consider raising the level of ambition and increase its target from the current 40% to slightly over 45% by 2030,” but indicated that more detail on achieving this would be forthcoming in the commission’s proposal.
A priority for the commission in terms of the long-term approach will be to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which will be explored through a number of proposals, Canete concluded: “We need to consider the likely developments in terms of technological innovation and economies of scale. The energy sector will be a major vehicle for progress here… Industry is seriously looking into how it can decarbonise… [And] we should not forget that a low carbon economy will need to focus on how land is used – not only to grow our food, land to produce feedstock and biomaterials, but also to produce climate neutral bioenergy and absorb CO2.”