The countdown for the Climate Change Conference in Paris has begun; but, unfortunately, in spite of great expectations, progress in defining conditions to reach a global agreement have been minimal.
Last December, the COP20 in Lima seemed to be a milestone in the negotiations towards a new global climate agreement. Its outcome was announced as the unmissable occasion to define a draft negotiating text for the new global legally- binding agreement, due to be finalised in December 2015 in Paris.
Differently from the Kyoto Protocol, the Lima Conference adopted a bottom –up approach, which defines strategies and objectives to be attained on the basis of the so-called Intended Nationally Determined
Contributions, a document by which nations publicly declare what actions they intend to take under a new global agreement. This new strategy has been tailored under the “common but differentiated responsibility principle”, in order to involve both developed and developing countries and ensure a second commitment period before the end of 2015. Indeed, while greater efforts are expected from developed countries, adaption efforts and greenhouse gas reduction in developing countries are very important as well, in order to attain long-term goals in the fight against climate change.
Although the Lima framework was expected to be successful, the nature of national contributions is still undefined, and the differentiation between states unclear.
In this context, the COP21 could be a great occasion for the EU to be the driving force in leading international negotiations towards a global legally-binding agreement. As widely known, the EU has well developed and ambitious climate policies based on 2020 targets, namely 20% less carbon emissions, 20% market share of renewable energy sources, and 20% improvements in energy efficiency, which are supported by various instruments such as the Emissions Trading System. Furthermore, on October 2014, the European Council agreed on new climate and energy targets for 2030.
Starting by these premises, the importance of the EU as a major player, speaking with ‘one voice’ at the COP21 and seeking progress towards an international agreement, could be an added value in order to reach a broad consensus on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and to encourage major economies to take step towards a greener economy.
As a matter of fact, the Paris Conference is not an end in itself, but rather the start of a dynamic process which will enable the international community to get back on track in its efforts to meet the target of keeping the rise in average global temperatures below 2° C. In this context, EU Member States need to work strongly together at international level, in order to put this ambitious global climate action as a central priority of diplomatic relations and dialogue with partner countries.
Of course, the path is difficult to pave but there’s still a chance to take concrete commitments to tackle the climate emergency.