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EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete on the follow-up to COP21 at the public session of the Environment Council

Speech by Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete: follow-up to COP21 at the public session of the Environment Council


  • It is a pleasure to address you today following the adoption of the Commission’s Communication on the Paris Agreement and its implications for EU climate and energy policy.
  • I would like to thank Minister Dijksma and the Presidency for preparing their headline reading of the Paris Agreement which is also important for today’s discussion.
  • We have already reflected on the historic achievement of Paris and the opportunity the global low carbon transition presents. But much work lies ahead. In our Communication adopted on Wednesday, we set out our initial reflections on implementing the Paris Agreement in the EU. Our message is clear: the EU needs to continue to show global leadership.

Long-term goal

  • The Paris Agreement includes a long-term goal to put the world on track to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.
  • It also contains a dynamic mechanism to review ambition over time. The 2018 facilitative dialogue presents a first opportunity to assess collective efforts in achieving the long-term goal before the first global stocktake in 2023.
  • The special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the specific policy implications of a 1.5°C goal will be critical in informing those discussions. The EU will provide input into the work that will be undertaken internationally for that purpose.
  • Along with other Parties, the EU is also invited to communicate by 2020, its mid-century long-term low emission development strategies. To facilitate the preparation of these strategies, and the political debate in the Parliament and Council, the Commission will prepare an in-depth analysis of the economic and social transformations required for this purpose.
  • In this context, some argue that the EU needs to raise its level of ambition already today. Let me give you my view:
  • The EU 2030 target is an ambitious contribution to the Paris Agreement, as part of a global effort, and in comparison to other Parties contributions.  This because:
    1. It is consistent with what science requires.  Reducing our emissions by at least 40% by 2030 is in line, in the medium term, with the Paris Agreement’s goals.
    2. It is the most ambitious form of mitigation target. It is an economy wide cap, binding in European law, and accountable down to each tonne.
    3. It will require a significant transformation of the European economy. In the energy sector, transport, buildings, agriculture. In fact this concerns all sectors. It will not be easy, but we are determined to deliver.
    4. And importantly, it is designed as a first step in a roadmap towards a low carbon economy.  As I just mentioned, the EU will prepare, by 2020, a mid-century low emissions development strategy, that will enable the EU to lead the global transformation towards climate neutrality.

 2030 climate and energy framework

  • Coming back to the Paris Agreement, a key element is the legally binding obligation on all Parties to pursue domestic mitigation efforts necessary to achieve their emission reduction targets.
  • The EU was the first major economy to submit its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) on 6 March 2015 which reflects the European Council Conclusions of October 2014 on the 2030 climate and energy framework.
  • We must live up to our commitments made in Paris and implement swiftly the EU’s climate and energy framework, as agreed by the EU leaders in October 2014.
  • The Commission began the process of implementation even before the Paris Conference with its proposal to revise the EU emissions trading system (ETS).
  • As a next step the Commission is currently preparing proposals for the non-ETS sectors, including on effort sharing and land use, land use change and forestry, as well as a new governance mechanism to streamline planning and reporting requirements for the post-2020 period. This will also cover energy policy, with the revision of the energy efficiency and renewable energy directives as well as our work on the electricity market design scheduled for autumn.

Low carbon transition


  • The Paris Agreement has sent a clear signal to stakeholders and investors that the global transition to a low-carbon economy and clean energy is here to stay.
  • We should reflect for a moment that being in the lead on the drive towards a low carbon economy is a clear opportunity for our economy, for jobs and growth here in Europe.
  • To support this transition, we need an enabling framework to a real long term transition to a low carbon economy, in particular by delivering on the Energy Union.
  • With the scope of needed investments, it is clear that shifting and scaling up private investment is essential. EU funds, such the European Fund for Strategic Investments, will play an important role to mobilise the markets.
  • Indeed the EU as a whole is well placed to exploit these new opportunities. I believe that with our strong track record and continued focus on innovation, Europe is on the right track.

Climate Diplomacy

  • The Paris Agreement was without a doubt a great success for EU climate diplomacy.
  • The EU spoke with a unified voice which was crucial in the lead-up to Paris and in developing the High Ambition Coalition – the alliance of countries that fought for a high level of ambition – which shaped the successful outcome.
  • We must maintain this momentum in all international fora including the G7 and G20, not least because of the critical negotiations in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) later this year as well as further talks on the Montreal Protocol, both of which provide a good opportunity to scale up the level of ambition in the pre-2020 period. We must also ensure tangible progress on many of the left-overs from Paris before the Marrakech conference.
  • As a first step I welcome the Conclusions adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 15 February, which recognise that climate action is amajor strategic foreign policy challenge in a range of areas with implications in development aid and cooperation, trade and security.
  • We should continue to support developing countries in the implementation of their national climate action plans, with such support programmes to be rolled out as of this year. In that regard, we (the EU and the Member States) should deliver on our commitment to scale up the mobilisation of climate finance in order to contribute our share of the 100 billion US dollars per year by 2020.

Next steps – signature

  • The Communication adopted on Wednesday was accompanied by a Commission proposal for a Council Decision on the signing of the Paris Agreement on behalf of the European Union.
  • As we know, the Paris Agreement will be open for signature at the high-level ceremony taking place in New York on 22 April 2016.
  • The presence of the EU and its Member States at the ceremony will be an important signal of our commitment to the Paris Agreement. I therefore count on your support to finalise the Decision in good time before the ceremony.



  • Thank you once again for your efforts and continued cooperation in the implementation of this historic agreement.
  • I look forward to hearing your reflections and how we can take forward this work together.

Compliments of the European Commission