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The EU’s climate pledge for the Paris agreement sets a low standard for other emitters

Today the EU’s environment ministers signed off the EU’s commitment towards the Paris agreement on climate change. According to Climate Action Network Europe and its over 120 members, the EU’s announcement is a missed opportunity to set a high benchmark for all the pledges to the global deal.

The EU’s 2030 at least 40% climate target agreed by the EU Heads of State and Government last October needed to be translated into a pledge for presentation to the international climate negotiations, due to make a global climate deal in Paris at the end of this year.

Despite some Member States attempting to dilute the EU’s 2030 climate target, the environment ministers requested today that the EU’s commitment will not be lowered. At the same time however, they failed to provide clarity and credibility to the pledge, by not including information on the concrete amount of emission reductions that the EU will make after 2020. They also did not clarify how the EU will unlock the “at least” part of its 2030 commitment.

“It is highly disappointing to see that the EU’s offer does not provide nearly enough clarity on how it will harness progress towards a fossil fuel phase out and 100% renewable energy” – Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network said. “The EU’s current contribution does not specify how emissions from forestry, reductions done before 2020 and reductions abroad will be dealt with. The EU says nothing about these crucial issues, despite calling for other countries to provide pledges that will accurately measure emissions. Its pledge must be updated as soon as possible: the world needs the European Union to set a high standard, not a low one”.

Member States and Commission in conflict over EU’s commitment to the Paris climate deal

Tour EiffelMedia advisory

[Brussels, 4 March 2015] On Friday, 6th March, the EU’s environment ministers will discuss and most likely decide upon the EU's commitment towards the Paris agreement on climate change. On behalf of over 120 members, Climate Action Network Europe highlights the causes of concern regarding attempts to dilute the EU’s pledge.

The Environment Council on Friday will discuss the European Commission’s Road to Paris Communication published last week. The Communication includes a translation of the target to reduce carbon pollution by at least 40% by 2030 adopted by heads of state and government in October last year into a pledge for presentation to the international climate negotiations, due to make a global climate deal in Paris at the end of this year.

“The credibility of the climate target agreed by Member States has been lost in translation. The Commission’s proposal could severely undermine efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It introduces two potential loopholes which could dilute the EU’s climate target by more than 11%” - Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe said.

First, it lacks clarity if the forest management sector will be treated separately and on top of the EU's at least 40% domestic target. Forest management constitutes a large net sink, which means that it removes more carbon than it emits. According to a number of studies, including forest management into the EU target could lower the ambition by more than 4%. Secondly, both in the ETS and the non-ETS sectors, the EU will overachieve its 2020 target, and a large surplus of emission allowances has been accumulated and is expected to grow further. If these allowances are carried-over to the post-2020 period, this surplus could dilute the 40% target by more than 7% in 2030.

“The environment ministers have to ensure that the EU drives a global climate deal which will protect us from the worst impacts of climate change. The progressive Member States will hopefully lead the push for a more ambitious position from Europe ahead of the Paris conference. These include Denmark, who committed to make 100% of their electricity supply renewable, and the UK, who is on the way to completely phase out coal. These countries understand that climate policies can deliver more and better jobs, improved public health and more prosperous economies” – Wendel Trio adds.

The progressive countries will have to counter attempts of some Member States to drop many of the decisions the European Council last October. Some Central European countries try to override Council’s conclusions, by advocating for inclusion of the forest management sector in the target, allowing for international offsets despite clear formulation that the target should be achieved domestically and deleting any reference to “binding” legislation, which will allow to implement the targets.

According to Climate Action Network Europe, the EU needs to not only avoid losing credibility as the climate leader, but, moving forward, it needs to specify how it will deliver the "at least" part of its climate action commitment. The EU’s at least 40% domestic target does not represent a fair and ambitious contribution for keeping warming well below 2°C.


CAN Europe’s spokespeople will be available for comment on the ENVI Council decision on Friday. CAN Europe will also issue a reactive statement.

Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +32 494 525 738
Wendel Trio, CAN Europe Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +32 473 170 887

Commission's Paris proposals useful, but insufficient

[Brussels, 25 February 2015] The European Commission’s proposals for the EU’s contribution to the Paris Climate Summit announced today advocate for a strong, legally binding outcome of the international climate negotiations. On behalf of over 120 organizations, Climate Action Network Europe welcomes the push for the legal form, but calls for more clarity on the amount of greenhouse gasses the EU will emit between 2021 and 2030.

"Legally binding outcome of the Paris negotiations will provide greater certainty that countries deliver their commitments” – Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe said. “At the same time, the Commission does not specify Europe's contributions to bridging the gaps in international climate finance and short-term emission reductions. Without addressing these, getting any deal in Paris will be very difficult”.

An important chapter of the Commission’s proposal is the elaboration of the EU's post-2020 emission reduction target to be submitted to the UN by the end of March, the so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

"The amount of greenhouse gases that the EU will be allowed to emit after 2020 remains unclear” – Trio added. “The proposal does not close potential loopholes which can dilute the EU’s 2030 emissions reduction target by up to 4,5%, according to conservative estimations. Given emissions are projected to be at minus 25% in 2020, if reductions in 2021 start from minus 20%, the Member States will not have to make any efforts in the first years. Moreover, using the weak accounting rules for the forestry sector would prolong the functioning of coal power plants. This is not acceptable. It will be now more difficult to expect other major emitters to provide transparent commitments”.

CAN Europe regrets that the Commission has not indicated how the EU could move beyond 40% domestic emission reductions. For the EU's contribution to be truly equitable and adequate, it should aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 95% by 2050. This means that emissions need to be reduced by at least 55% by 2030.

CAN Europe urges Member States to improve the Commission's proposal.

European Parliament takes a step to knock out Europe’s toxic tonnes…later rather than sooner

ep ets[Brussels, 24 February] Today the European Parliament’s environment committee took the first steps to reform the EU’s Emissions Trading System. Following intense pressure from forward looking investors and civil society, policymakers agreed to curb the total amount of pollution permits in the system that would otherwise flood the market by 2020. This is expected to result in a stronger carbon price signal in order to let the polluter pay and support climate friendly investments in Europe. Policymakers unfortunately failed to agree to a timely start of the new Market Stability Reserve which will only become operational by 2019.

Sam Van den plas, Climate Policy Officer WWF added: “Policymakers are finally tackling the surplus of pollution permits that have plagued the EU carbon market for many years. This vote prohibits around 1.7 billion back-loaded and unused allowances from flooding the carbon market by 2020 which is a welcome step to ensure that these toxic tonnes do not continue to linger over the EU ETS in the coming years.”

“Postponing necessary reforms until 2019 is simply irresponsible in times of a climate crisis. It is now up to the Council to ensure that it does not take another four years before EU policymakers come to the rescue. Every year we wait with setting up the reserve, the surplus that is suffocating the EU carbon market will grow bigger, pushing EU’s cornerstone climate instrument closer to the brink of collapse.” stated Femke de Jong, Policy Officer at Carbon Market Watch.

Anja Kollmuss, EU ETS Policy Coordinator at CAN Europe said “Today’s vote is an important first step to revive the ailing carbon market. Politicians strengthened the lukewarm proposal by the Commission, and showed that they understand that strong European-wide climate actions bring benefits to European citizens. The next step must be to permanently remove excess pollution permits at the upcoming revision of the EU’s carbon market.”

The EU ETS has suffered for many years with extremely low carbon prices due to the massive oversupply of pollution permits in the system. The Market Stability Reserve is necessary to improve the overall functionality of the Emissions Trading System. Designed to reduce the impact of shocks in supply and demand for emission allowances, it automatically adjusts the volume of available allowances in the EU’s carbon market (EU ETS) to avoid an over- or undersupply of these allowances.

G20 finance ministers urged to end subsidies for fossil fuels

power station emissions cc 2009[Brussels, 9th February] 39 non-governmental organizations urge the finance ministers attending today's G20 meeting in Istanbul to take immediate steps to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, and use these funds for climate action.

According to Climate Action Network Europe, one of the signatories of the letter sent to the G20 finance ministers, the G20 summit is a test of the EU's role in international climate negotiations set to make a global deal in December.


France, Germany, Italy and the UK, who participate in the G20, in 1999-2011 allocated at least EUR 68bn in subsidies to fossil fuel production [1]. These funds seriously undermine efforts to combat climate change. It is five years since the G20 pledged to phase out 'inefficient' fossil fuel subsidies in an effort to slow down climate change, but to date little progress has been made. Last week, France took the first step by reaffirming its commitment to stop all coal financing abroad through export credit agencies, a move that should be enacted immediately.

"The world cannot use the large majority of known fossil fuels and maintain a stable climate"- Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network said. "EU finance ministers should play a leading role in ensuring that the G20 takes immediate steps to fulfill its commitment to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies. This will allow the EU to strengthen its role in international climate negotiations and improve the odds of a successful climate agreement in Paris".

Signatories of the letter point out that phasing out fossil fuel subsidies would generate more funds for national and international climate action. Last year countries raised slightly less than 10% of the first tranche of the Green Climate Fund, which should provide USD 100bn-a-year by 2020. This fund is crucial for tackling the impacts of climate change in developing countries and making a full transition to renewable energy.

"The EU has announced a push to make climate action its strategic priority for the G20 and G7 summits, in order to draw up an ambitious global deal to tackle climate change in Paris at the end of this year" – Trio added. "Now it's the time to show it is serious about its commitment. If the problem of a lack of climate finance remains unsolved, it can severely compromise chances for a strong agreement in Paris".

Letter to Turkish G20 President on fossil fuel subsidies here


Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +32 494 525 738
Wendel Trio, CAN Europe Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +32 473 170 887

[1] Climate Action Network Europe, CIDSE, Missing pieces, Steps to phasing out dirty fossil fuel subsidies in Europe, December 2014 

Lima climate talks postpone crucial decisions

More action required before the next climate summit in Paris

[Lima, Peru - December 14, 2012]

At the end of the UN Climate Summit in Lima, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe1 stated:

"The limited progress that was achieved in Peru, in particular on the provision of financial support to poor countries to adapt to climate change, or repair the damages from extreme weather events, is a big let down after the positive signs that came from the New York Summit and recent announcements about emission cuts and financial pledges."

"Very limited progress was made on how to deal with emission reductions after 2020. Crucially, we’ll be able to see whether governments are doing enough to keep global temperature rise well below the catastrophic 2°C they’ve agreed to avoid. For Europe, it is an opportunity, before Paris, to increase the EU greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030 beyond the agreed weak 40% level.”

"Although the $10 billion pledged to the Green Climate Fund was a welcomed step forward, the agreement gives no clarity on what comes after this 10 billon. Our environment ministers need to work with their finance colleagues to spell out the sources of finance available and work out how they will deliver the rest of the promised money in a clear, predictable and measurable way. This is one of the most pressing issues for developing countries."

"No progress was made in Lima on closing the current emissions gap between what countries plan to do by 2020, and what is needed to keep temperature rise well below 2°C and avoid dangerous climate change. The EU has to ramp up its emission reductions efforts before 2020, by phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, ensuring the objective to reduce energy consumption by 20% is reached and engaging in a real reform of the failing Emissions Trading Scheme."



Wendel Trio, CAN Europe Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +51 954 999 357

Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  +48 514 32 67 80

Matthew Keys,  CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +44 7812052475



[1] Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 120 member organisations in more than 25 European countries, CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable energy and environment policy in Europe.

CAN Europe is the European node for CAN-International, a worldwide network of more than 900 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) committed to limiting human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.

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