Thursday, October 21, 2021

Europe divided over Paris agreement

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European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete gave a press conference on climate change on Monday, after the International Energy Agency announced that its 2015 global energy use report had been ‘of a higher quality’.

“There is a lot of information in this report,” said Mr Cañete. “The world is moving closer to reaching the Paris Agreement targets, which are ambitious but achievable.”

But he said “every country needs to pursue ambitious and necessary efforts, and I am calling on all countries to use all means at their disposal, including every opportunity in the cooperation with the U.S. and my call to both countries for more ambition when it comes to the Paris Agreement,” he said.

In Brussels today, Mr Cañete’s comments were welcomed by his US counterpart, Rick Perry. But a senior European diplomat warns that it will be “very difficult” for Mr Cañete to persuade Europeans to ‘meet’ the Paris targets set by his government.

This week, the EU will publish its ‘”green paper”, which outlines ways of achieving its targets to cut carbon emissions. The “green paper” has generated a very strong response from government and business in Europe. But this is a paper which, says one senior official at the ‘energy council’, will be difficult to agree on.

The green paper will come to a vote on Wednesday, but the European Council is not expected to reach agreement on any conclusions.

U.S. energy secretary Rick Perry was in Brussels on Tuesday in a bid to win Europeans’ support for the Trump administration’s energy policy.

“Our bottom line is the imperative of a mixed energy system – clean, affordable and reliable – that’s focused on the US energy self-sufficiency,” Mr Perry said.

But in Brussels today, the spokesperson for the EU energy commissioner said that “given the lack of cohesion between the EU and the US, it will be very difficult for EU and US colleagues to meet the Paris Agreement targets, even in this untested climate transition phase.”

“Fossil fuels, in particular oil and gas are central to the US energy mix and Trump’s recent support for Alberta’s oilsands will only increase this dependence,” he added.

“Ensuring continued economic growth and creating a level playing field are critically important. In that regard we have already called on the U.S. to ensure that the Paris Agreement is actually honoured.”

Amid the frosty atmosphere, there is hope that some progress could be made when the EU and the U.S. enter into formal bilateral negotiations.

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