The annual climate talks ended in Madrid with a disappointing outcome.
- The talks were unable to define the rules of a new carbon market to be set up under the Paris Agreement
- Unable to persuade countries to commit to increase the scale of climate actions by next year, a demand being made again and again in view of scientific assessments that show that current efforts to tackle climate change were not enough.
The European Union, whose 28 member countries are together the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after China and the United States, came up with an announcement on additional measures it would on climate change called the European Green Deal
Two major decisions are at the heart of the European Green Deal.
Achieving “climate neutrality”
- The EU has promised to bring a law, binding on all member countries, to ensure it becomes “climate neutral” by 2050.
- Over the last few months, there had been a growing demand for countries to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050.
- The EU is now the first major emitter to agree to the 2050 climate neutrality target.
An increase in its 2030 emission reduction target.
- In its climate action plan declared under the Paris Agreement, the EU was committed to making a 40 per cent reduction in its emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
- It is now promising to increase this reduction to at least 50 per cent and work towards 55 per cent.
- The EU also happens to be only one among major emitters to retain the 1990 baseline for emission cuts, originally mandated under the Kyoto Protocol for all developed countries. Most other countries have shifted their baselines to 2005 or even later under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The Green Deal includes sectoral plans to achieve these two overall targets, and proposals for the policy changes that would be required.
- Proposals for making the steel industry carbon-free by 2030,
- New strategies for transport and energy sectors,
- Revision of managements of railway and shipping to make them more efficient, and
- More stringent air pollution emission standards for vehicles.
- The Green Deal is important but inadequate in itself to achieve the emission reductions required to save the world from catastrophic and irreversible impacts of climate change.
- There is a risk of carbon leakage, either because production is transferred from the EU to other countries with lower ambition for emission reduction, or because EU products are replaced by more carbon-intensive imports.
- The Kyoto Protocol required the rich and developed countries to provide finance and technology to the developing countries to help them fight climate change.
- There has been little climate money flowing out of the EU, especially for adaptation needs of developing countries, and transfer of new climate-friendly technologies has been mired in patent and ownership complications.
- There has been no signal from other big emitters, including large developing countries like China and India that they were considering immediate scaling up of their climate actions.