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NGOs demand review of 'insufficient' EU emission reduction targets

The EU's Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) sets allowances of greenhouse gas emissions for EU member states across sectors such as agriculture and transport.
The EU's Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) sets allowances of greenhouse gas emissions for EU member states across sectors such as agriculture and transport. Copyright Michael Probst/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Michael Probst/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Mared Gwyn Jones
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The annual emission allowances (AEAs) set by the European Commission for EU member states lack ambition and are in breach of EU environmental law, according to CAN Europe and the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN).


The NGOs requested Wednesday an internal review of a European Commission Implementing Decision that sets annual emission allowances for each EU member state in sectors including road transport, buildings, agriculture, waste and small industries.

They say the allowances and the EU's overall climate ambitions are "alarmingly off-track" with the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement and fail to protect fundamental human rights.

The request relates to a recent update of the so-called 'Effort Sharing Regulation', part of a landmark package of EU legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 55% by 2030.

Allowances are determined according to countries' wealth. It was revealed earlier this week that Germany is likely to exceed its target emissions of C02-equivalent gases by 150 million tonnes.

"Our view is that the current level at which these allocations are set are far off the action required for the EU to contribute its fair share in achieving the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement," Romain Didi, Climate governance and human rights policy coordinator at CAN Europe, said.

"If all the countries in the world were doing like the EU is doing in terms of ambition, then we would end up with a catastrophic three-degree increase of warming by the end of the century.

"We need higher ambition to enable steeper emissions reductions in the short term and move substantially beyond the current, insufficient EU 2030 climate target of -55% to achieve at least -65% gross emission cuts by the end of this decade," he added.

The Commission told Euronews that it will consider the request for an internal review made by the two NGOs, but refuted the allegation that the Implementing Decision is in breach of fundamental rights.

"The Commission’s Decision fulfils the legal obligations set in the Effort Sharing Regulation, which respects fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union," a spokesperson said.

But CAN Europe and GLAN say faltering climate ambitions put fundamental rights at risk.

"Many effects of climate change, such as intensifying extreme weather events, actually threaten fundamental human rights of people within the EU and beyond, especially groups that are already marginalised or more vulnerable," Did said, "In particular, the climate emergency threatens the right to life, livelihoods and a healthy environment, and takes a major toll on our physical and mental health."

The Commission must now adopt a review decision in 16 weeks, with a possible extension to 22 weeks. Its review decision could then be challenged before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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