EU countries agree on COP27 climate ambitions

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By Méabh Mc Mahon
Giant bucket-wheel excavators extract coal at the controversial RWE Garzweiler surface coal mine near Jackerath, west Germany, Thursday, April 29, 2021.
Giant bucket-wheel excavators extract coal at the controversial RWE Garzweiler surface coal mine near Jackerath, west Germany, Thursday, April 29, 2021.   -   Copyright  Martin Meissner/AP Photo

EU environment ministers met in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss their climate ambitions ahead of the COP27 UN climate conference taking place in Sharm el Sheikh.

The European Union has promised to cut its net emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030 and is now negotiating a package of energy and climate laws to reach this target. It is called Fit for 55. 

After chairing the meeting, the Czech minister for the environment Anna Hubáčková said the EU needed to act fast to protect ecosystems and insisted that the EU approach to the negotiations in Egypt would be "ambitious and complex".

"The EU will insist on very specific steps - the protection of at least 30% of land, water ecosystems and at least 20% of sea ecosystems until the year 2030," said Hubáčková, adding that 3 billion of hectares of water eco-systems would have to be renewed.

The minister insisted that the EU mandate would also call for more financial resources for developing countries so that these can also participate in protecting biodiversity.

'We will be going much faster in our energy transition'

Solutions had to be found on a number of open issues - like connecting the negotiations on the Fit for 55 package to the COP27 UN conference and the European contribution to the Paris agreement goals.

EU climate chief Frans Timmermans will be representing the bloc in Egypt from 6 November to 18 November. He told reporters that the war in Ukraine has not scuppered the ambitious plans to achieve carbon neutrality. 

"The one conclusion we have drawn from the war is that we need to speed up our energy transition, so even if we use a bit more coal today, we will be going much faster in our energy transition so on balance, emissions will be reduced even faster than before", said Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission.

Spanish energy minister Teresa Ribera added that some countries are increasing their consumption of coal and gas, but that it was just a temporary measure. 

In 2021, at the COP26 in Glasgow, countries including China and India agreed to phase down their use of coal.

But since the war in Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands all announced temporary measures to use the fossil fuel. 

Laurent Babikian, capital markets director at CDP Europe, told Euronews he is worried about this regression and the lack of net zero commitments from the corporate and financial world.

"If we want to decrease the average temperature, we should stop burning coal and oil. The more we burn coal, the more we increase the temperature and the more the effort we will need to reverse the curve," Babikian told Euronews via Zoom. 

Babikian believes in order to "save the planet and our kids" and achieve the EU goal of net zero by 2050 and nature positivity, the system needs to be changed. 

"The version of capitalism that is called neo-liberalism will not achieve net zero.

"It seems obvious, but there is still a lot of resistance so we need to invent a new version of capitalism that will enable us to do this", Babikian said.