Europe Promises To Cut Emissions by 40% Within 15 years


The European Union Friday submitted a formal pledge to the United Nations stating how much it is willing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of climate change talks in Paris later in the year. As the first major economy to do so, it also called on China and the United States to follow suit.

Miguel Arias Canete, climate and energy commissioner, said the EU expects China, the U.S. and other G20 countries to follow its lead and submit an outline of specific contributions by the end of the month. Segolene Royal, French energy minister, adds that the pledge is Europe's means of taking responsibility as the host of the climate conference, which will begin on Nov. 30.

According to the meeting of environment ministers, the EU will be targeting to reduce its emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 as compared with levels recorded in 1990. The target was already set during a meeting in October 2014, but ministers had to discuss further the details of the pledge before formally submitting to the U.N.

"The EU contribution is the most ambitious in the world. There is no other country or a group of countries to take such an effort," said Marcin Korolec, climate negotiator for Poland.

Agreed upon by 28 nations in the EU bloc, the contribution is the second to be sent to the U.N., coming after Switzerland's. Representatives from over 190 countries aim for an agreement on a unified front at the climate conference in Paris, which will lead to imposing pollution limits for all countries for the first time.

As for the EU target, member-nations are looking at meeting it domestically within themselves instead of turning to others for carbon-cutting schemes. Although the general idea to share the challenge of cutting emissions together has been accepted, it is not clear yet on how exactly the EU will be fulfilling its climate pledge. A possible option is to split effort based on members' GDP per capita.

After the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Lima, Peru in December 2014, negotiators last met in Geneva, Switzerland in February of this year. The next meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 and Oct. 19 to 23, both in Bonn, Germany. Since the UNFCCC began in 1994, governments have launched national strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Photo: Noël Zia Lee | Flickr

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