Transparency regarding mitigation and financing rules likely to be key hurdles to overcome in achieving climate goals.

By Rosa Espin, Paul Davies, and Michael Green

The European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, recently commented on momentum in the European Union (EU) regarding climate change and the action that countries across the globe need to take to implement the Paris Agreement goals. The Commissioner addressed three main issues:

  • The Paris Agreement and its goals
  • How the EU has maintained the momentum at the recent COP23 UN Climate Change Conference (including establishing what COP24 participants intend to discuss at COP24 this year)
  • What the EU has done to implement the Paris Agreement targets (including the current status of the relevant legislation)

The Commissioner highlighted that the December 2015 Paris Climate Conference was a truly global effort. The resulting Paris Agreement was the first time that 195 countries signed a legally binding agreement on climate change. At COP23, further steps were outlined to ensure global climate action through the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The Commissioner also remarked that a key challenge for European countries will be to agree on mitigation and finance transparency rules and, in particular, to ensure that the necessary financing is available in order to fund the shift to a low carbon economy.

The Commissioner stated that the EU’s climate change goals are ambitious. By 2030 the EU would like to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (as compared to 1990 levels)
  • Achieve renewable energy consumption targets of at least 27%
  • Achieve energy savings of at least 27% (as compared with the business as usual scenario)

The Commissioner also spoke about the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, which aims to provide the stable legislative framework required to facilitate a clean energy transition in the EU. He stated that mobilizing €177 billion in public and private investments per year from 2021-2030 would provide an opportunity to create a stable investment environment for clean energy. The package’s three main goals are:

  • To prioritize energy efficiency
  • To achieve global leadership in renewable energies
  • To provide a fair deal for consumers

The Commissioner emphasized the magnitude of change required to achieve the Paris Agreement goals, and for the EU to achieve its own goals for 2030 and 2050 (including achieving approximately 100% clean energy by 2050). In light of this, the Commissioner noted that in transitioning to a low-carbon economy, gas will be an important fuel source as a bridge to achieving such decarbonization. Further, the Commissioner expects such decarbonization to have material impacts on the wider global economy.

*On 1 February 2018, Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, European Commission, presented the keynote address at a Latham & Watkins panel, ‘EU Policy Brief – Climate Action and Energy: in Conversation with Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete’, in the firm’s Brussels office. The panel was led by European Local Department Chair for Environment, Land & Resources (ELR), Paul Davies, Deputy Office Managing Partner of Madrid, Antonio Morales and with questions and answers led by ELR associate Rosa Espin.