Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt: The European Union plans to update its emissions reduction target under the Paris climate agreement, the EU’s climate policy chief said at the COP27 summit on Tuesday, with the update expected to come sooner of the United Nations summit next year.
The announcement by the world’s third-biggest polluter after China and the United States is trying to convince others that the 27-nation EU is sticking to its commitments to combat climate change, even as it grapples with an energy crisis.
“The EU is ready to update our NDC,” EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said at the COP27 summit in Egypt, referring to the bloc’s Nationally Determined Contribution, or emissions reduction target in line. with the 2015 Paris agreement to stop global warming.
“So don’t let anyone tell you, here or abroad, that the EU is backing down,” he said.
The EU has one of the most ambitious climate change policies of the major emitters, having committed to reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels, and eliminating them by 2050.
EU countries and lawmakers are negotiating legislation to achieve those goals, which Timmermans said should be complete by the end of the year. An EU official said the bloc planned to improve its target before next year’s UN climate summit in November 2023.
Ahead of COP27, the EU rushed to negotiate deals on three of the laws, including a 2035 ban on selling new fossil fuel cars. If implemented, those policies would cut EU countries’ net emissions by 57%, instead of 55%, Timmermans said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a gas rush in Europe and prompted some countries to burn more coal as they seek to replace Russian power supplies that have been disrupted this year.
EU lawmakers say the use of more fossil fuels is temporary, citing plans to expand renewables that the European Commission proposed to make more ambitious this year to help countries ditch Russian gas faster.
But the view of European countries burning more coal and funding new projects to burn more gas, while at the same time urging poorer countries to stop using fuel, has led some countries at COP27 to complain about a recoil on green targets.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is among those rushing to build gas infrastructure to import non-Russian fuel.
Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz said in May that Germany wanted to pursue gas projects with Senegal, which has billions of cubic meters of gas reserves, even after pledging last year to stop funding fossil fuel projects abroad.
The confluence of crises this year, from the war in Europe to skyrocketing inflation, has distracted many leaders from climate change. Nearly 200 countries agreed at last year’s UN climate conference in Glasgow to update their climate targets by 2022. So far, only about 30 have done so.