EU Parliament Backs New Carbon Cuts, Debates US Withdrawal

Plans for new compulsory greenhouse gas cuts under the Paris agreement were backed by European Members of Parliament (MEPs) on Wednesday, following a debate on the announced U.S. withdrawal.

These cuts will help deliver on the EU’s overall target for 2030 on all policies – a 40% cut from 1990 levels. The EU is committed to these cuts in the framework of the Paris Agreement.

The legislation will make it possible to break down the EU targets into binding, national ones for sectors not covered by the EU carbon market – i.e. agriculture, transport, building and waste, which together account for about 60% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Each EU member state will have to follow an emissions reduction pathway, calculated from a starting point of 2018, instead of 2020 as proposed by the Commission, in order to avoid an increase in emissions in the first few years or a postponement of their emission reductions.

To ensure long-term predictability, MEPs also set a target for 2050, of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to 2005 levels.

Rewarding early action

MEPs also propose rules to reward early action from member states with a GDP per capita below EU average which have taken, or will take, action before 2020, with more flexibility during the later part of the scheme.

To help member states achieve their goals, the regulation allows them to “borrow” up to 10% of the following year’s allowance, reducing it accordingly.

The report was approved by 534 votes to 88 and 56 abstentions.

MEPs opened negotiations with Council with an aim to reach a first reading agreement on the proposal. Informal “trilogue” negotiations will start when Council has set its own position.

Debate on U.S. withdrawal announcement

Parliament also discussed the announcement by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, on Wednesday, with Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. “The world is now watching Europe”, said Ms Heine, highlighting the vulnerability of her country to climate change. “With an average elevation of two metres above sea level, there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide” against climate change, she said. (…) my country risks becoming completely uninhabitable before the century ends” she said.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani (EPP, IT), said: “Climate change is one the most pressing global challenges that we face today. (…) By addressing this challenge, the EU is creating new opportunities for our citizens and industry. (…) Simply put, the U.S. administration’s decision is a mistake. By working together with nations around the world we can successfully deliver a cleaner and safer planet to our citizens.”

President Juncker said that the EU will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement. MEPs overwhelmingly spoke in favor of taking the UNFCCC 2015 agreement forward and applying it fully.

The announcement from U.S. President Trump was criticized by EU lawmakers, who announced that the European Union will stick to its commitments and move forward with its own climate legislation.


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