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EU seeks move from ambition to action at climate, biodiversity conferences

The European Union is calling for greater action to tackle the interconnected climate and biodiversity crises as it sets out its negotiating mandate for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) and UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15). 

COP27 Small Banner At COP27, the EU’s targets include work on: 

  • ending inefficient fossil fuel subsidies 
  • phasing down coal 
  • reducing methane emissions 
  • keeping the 1.5°C objective within reach 

“The climate and biodiversity crises are intimately related, and we cannot tackle one without addressing the other. Setting targets is not enough: we need to move from ambition to action,” said Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans. 

Climate action at COP27 

From 6 November, world leaders travel to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for COP27 where they will discuss ways to tackle the climate emergency.  

The EU says it is going to the conference with the commitment to honour its 2050 climate neutrality objective and a net reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. 

“International engagement through strong rule-based multilateralism is crucial for achieving successful results in addressing climate change,” the EU affirms 

Under current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are climate action plans to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts, the world is headed for 2.8°C of global heating by the end of the century, according to a recent report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).  This is despite legally binding promises made at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference to prevent average temperatures rising by more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. 

The EU underlines that collectively, NDS are “currently insufficient”. It calls on all parties to revisit and strengthen their NDCs in time for COP27, and says it stands ready to further increase its NDC, “if appropriate, in line with the outcome of the ongoing ‘Fit for 55′ negotiations.” (EU countries are currently working on a new legislation to reduce EU emissions by at least 55% by 2030.) 

Global response to the climate emergency 

With extreme weather events becoming more intense and frequent, the EU stresses the “extreme urgency to strengthen the global response to address the climate emergency.” 

The world’s economies and societies need to become more resilient to climate impacts, and the EU says it is ready to accelerate action both domestically and worldwide on adaptation to climate change. 

On the question of loss and damage, the EU wants to play the role of a “bridge builder” to find effective solutions to meet the needs faced by vulnerable countries around the world. The EU also signalled its support for an agenda item at COP27 on finance for loss and damage. 

The EU and its Member States are are the largest provider of public climate finance in the world, with €23.04 billion provided in 2021. At COP27, the EU will engage with other donors to encourage them to increase their own contributions. 

The EU also says it welcomes the ‘Early Warnings for All’ initiative launched by UN Secretary-General António Guterres with the objective to cover everyone on Earth with early warning systems within five years. 

Protecting nature at COP15 

A million plant and animal species are currently threatened with extinction, and COP15, to be held in Montreal from 7-19 December, will convene governments from around the world to agree on a new set of goals for nature over the next decade.  

“This is expected to be a landmark UN Biodiversity Conference, where the intention is to adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework, setting out goals to guide global actions to protect and restore nature into the next decade,” the EU says.   

The EU’s 2030 targets that it will set out at COP15 include: 

  • Protecting at least 30% of land and 30% of oceans  
  • Restoring three billion hectares of land and three billion hectares of oceans 
  • Eliminating all illegal, unsustainable or unsafe harvest, trade and use of wild species 
  • Halting human-induced extinctions of known threatened species 
  • Harnessing the full potential of nature-based solutions 
  • Ensuring adequate resource mobilisation for biodiversity 

“Our health, our wellbeing, our climate, our economy – they all depend on nature. We cannot waste time anymore in losing biodiversity. We have to act now,” said EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius. 

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