EP: Climate Change
Looking at the European Parliament's role in Climate Change and COP21
The European Parliament works on the global response to climate change by passing new legislation that aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions and steer the EU towards a low-carbon economy less dependent on fossil fuel imports.
Participating in United Nations climate summits, MEPs work with international partners to show more ambition as the world works towards a globally binding climate treaty to be agreed by 2015.
The objective of EU climate policy is to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial average temperature (if it increases higher than this, scientists say global warming levels will be catastrophic) levels. The EU is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, while improving energy efficiency by 20%.
MEPs have been involved in overhauling the transport and energy sectors to ensure that the EU produces more fuel-efficient cars, vans and motorbikes and invests in alternative fuels that will not cost the planet.
There is a big climate meeting in Paris this December, but before we get to that, let’s take a look at Climate Change up until now.
Climate Change Policy – A Timeline:
- 1992: World Governments met in Rio de Janeiro and created the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- 1997: The Kyoto protocol was created. This pact required worldwide cuts in emissions of 5%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2012. The protocol could not come into force until countries representing 55% of global emissions had ratified it.
- 2004: Russia ratified Kyoto making it legally binding.
- 2007: An action plan was developed in Bali that would start the world on a new course for an agreement that would take over from the Kyoto protocol.
- 2009: All of the world’s developed countries and the biggest developing countries agreed to limits on their greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen.
- 2010: Meetings in Cancun made the agreement in Copenhagen legally binding.
- 2012: Doha Conference (Qatar) established a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020), which was ratified by a number of industrialised countries, and terminated the Bali track.
- 2015: Paris – while some countries have already decided what they will agree to, others haven’t identified their targets, despite having a deadline to do so by the end of March!
What has already been agreed ahead of Paris?
- The EU says it will cut its emissions by 40%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030.
- The US will cut its emissions by 26% to 28%, compared with 2005 levels, by 2025.
- China will agree that its emissions will peak by 2030.
What is COP21 ?
It is the 21st Conference of the Parties, i.e. the annual meeting of all countries that are taking action for the climate. It will be held in France, from 30 Nov - 11 Dec.
More than 190 nations will gather in Paris to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
Why is there so much talk of a 2°C target?
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming of more than 2°C would have serious consequences, such as an increase in the number of extreme climate events.