Europe's Weak Position for Paris

"Today’s a very good day. The EU is equipped with a very solid position for Paris,” [1] -Miguel Cañete 

EU Environment Ministers met in Brussels on Friday 18th September to agree on a united stance for the climate conference (COP21) in Paris in December. The EU has adopted COP21 mandates, and has agreed to cut emissions by 40% by 2030. In a press release by the European Council about the conclusions form the meeting, it is stated that the EU will push nations to achieve “sustainable climate neutrality” by 2100.[2] However, there are still few details about how the EU expects to reach this goal. 

Unsatisfied with the outcomes

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe broadly supports the Council‘s target of achieving a carbon neutral world by 2100 but, in light of the complexity of this endeavour, we also call for the EU to introduce more ambitious and binding targets in order to achieve this goal. 

“In 2014 the world pumped 39.8 billion tons of CO2 into the air by burning coal, oil and gas. Allowing EU countries to simply re-submit existing commitments is just not enough to cut our addiction to fossil fuels. Since miracles only happen in fairly tales, EU countries need to do more to speed up the transition towards renewable energy.” Anja Leetz, HCWH Europe Executive Director.

We are concerned with the outcomes of Friday’s discussion, since the Council’s statement makes no reference to wanting to deepen its 2030 goals. It states that while countries should not be allowed to fall short on their commitments, they will in fact be allowed to re-submit their existing commitments. This raises concerns about how targets may be lowered in the future. We also worry that the language of the text may be too vague, paving the way for the leniency of targets. For example, during the meeting, it was decided that the term “decarbonisation” would be replaced by  “carbon-neutral.” This wording is troublesome because it doesn’t necessarily imply the complete decarbonisation of the system, and may leave space for nations to continue burning fossil fuels by disguising/justifying the emissions through mechanisms such as green technologies.[3]

Today, we call on European leaders and Environment Ministers to fully commit to their supposed goal of achieving a carbon-neutral world by 2100 by strengthening and fully implementing ambitious carbon reduction targets and not allowing member states to back-track on their commitments. Europe should be a leader in setting an example for other regions and countries on the global transition to a carbon-neutral world. 



 (Preview Photo Credit: Nicolò Carantivia Flickr CC)

Media Contact

Ana-Christina Gaeta

Communications Assistant, HCWH Europe