NGOs tell environment ministers to beef up effort sharing ambition

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Next week, EU environment ministers will discuss for the first time the legislative proposal determining national 2030 climate targets for the transport, agriculture, waste and buildings sectors. Ahead of the meeting, a group of 29 organisations urged ministers to close loopholes in the climate law that will determine how Europe meets its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The two climate proposals published in July this year, the 2030 Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) and the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) regulation will play an important role in the EU’s contribution to the global climate effort.

In a letter to the environment ministers, civil society organisations from across Europe called for improvements in both sets of legislation to drive the climate friendly transition of Europe, and to bring about the related benefits such as cleaner air, reduced energy poverty and creation of green jobs.

The organisations argued that both regulations needed higher levels of ambition.

The ESR also requires a long-term trajectory towards the EU’s 2050 climate goals, a more robust governance structure, and a more accurate starting point for calculating the carbon budget for each country. The LULUCF regulation must not only promote the maintenance of the EU’s carbon sink, but should go further by ensuring it is increased.

Undermining climate efforts

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The impact of potential loopholes on the Effort Sharing Regulation

Loopholes could undermine the emissions reduction potential of the two laws, as they would allow countries to meet their targets on paper but not in reality.

To avoid this, ministers should reject the possibility to use forests as an excuse to not cut emissions in the agriculture or transport sectors for example. The role of forests as carbon sinks is crucial in addressing climate change. However, sustainable land use needs to be promoted in addition to, not instead of, efforts to cut emissions elsewhere.

The organisations further caution against exploiting the one-off option to use surplus pollution permits from the EU’s oversupplied Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to offset emissions in the non-traded sectors. Giving away EU ETS allowances that  a government would otherwise have auctioned, would mean losing out on revenues that could be invested in climate measures.

The regulations in short

The Effort Sharing Regulation sets binding national emissions reduction targets for each member state for the sectors that are not covered by the EU’s carbon market, such as transport, agriculture, waste and buildings.

These sectors are responsible for over 60% of the bloc’s total greenhouse gas emissions.  As part of its Paris pledge, the EU has promised to cut those emissions overall by 30% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

The LULUCF regulation covers emissions and removals from land use.

By Kaisa Amaral

More information:

Open letter to environment ministers on the Effort Sharing and the LULUCF Regulations

Policy brief: The 2030 Effort Sharing Regulation – How can the EU’s largest climate tool spur Europe’s low-carbon transition?