POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - EUROPE

Ahead of Cop27

EU ministers meet, agree on Cop27 stance



Luxembourg environment minister Joëlle Welfring urges EU member states to transition to greener energies not just for climate change mitigation but also to prevent energy dependency on external providers.  Photo: European Union

Luxembourg environment minister Joëlle Welfring urges EU member states to transition to greener energies not just for climate change mitigation but also to prevent energy dependency on external providers.  Photo: European Union

Environment ministers of EU member states on 24 October met in Luxembourg to determine their shared negotiating position for the climate summit in Sharm el Sheikh, underlining the importance of higher climate targets.

Ahead of the Cop27 climate action summit in November, the Council reiterated the importance of increased ambitions in terms of climate targets to keep below the 1.5C limit of the Paris Agreement, by for instance reviewing nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The Fit-for-55 package which demands that countries reduce their emissions by 55% between 1990 and 2030 could also see its target increase by a few percentages, surmises news site Euractiv.

“Luxembourg has clearly understood that ambitious climate and energy transition policies are urgent to face the climate crisis and modernise our society, but also to improve our situation in terms of geopolitical independence,” responded the grand duchy’s environment minister Joëlle WelfringJoëlle Welfring (déi Gréng) following the meeting.

The small country has the second-earliest overshoot day in the world after Qatar, reaching the limits of resources available each year on 14 February this year. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ensuing energy crisis, the country has also pushed to accelerate its green energy transitions through partnerships and investments.

Biodiversity, industrial emissions, agriculture to be improved

The summit on biodiversity (Cop15), which will take place in Montreal, Canada in December, was also on the agenda. As biodiversity is on a steep decline, the Council called for a sturdy framework to include mid- and long-term targets to preserve and improve the balance in various ecosystems worldwide. Here, Welfring underlined the importance of following scientific reports to ensure an efficient framework.

The EU directive 2010/75/EU  on regulating pollutant industrial emissions was also debated on Monday, with ministers considering revising the text to extend its scope to include more types of livestock farms and a mechanism for penalties and compensations of health damages. Here too, Luxembourg positioned itself as in favour of revising the text, while emphasising on the need to subsidise the agricultural sector in its green transition and a revision of the burden of proof in the case of a compensation.

Efficient and persuasive sanctions would be crucial, the grand duchy’s minister said.

Further steps towards sustainability

 While Luxembourg approved of the EU Council’s stance on the eco-conception of products--which would reduce waste by making products more sustainable--its minister said educating citizens on overconsumption was even more important.

But Welfring applauded the regulation, saying that it “will provide an opportunity to ensure that products placed on the European market are safe and sustainable, by giving greater importance to the issue of resource consumption throughout the life cycle alongside the energy consumption of products.”

The Council on Monday also adopted a regulation on persistent organic pollutants, adding more chemicals to the list and reducing concentration limit values in certain substances to protect human health and the environment.

The common charger directive and laws contributing to a more efficient management of health situations between member states were also approved at the meeting.