In the EU it has been accepted as the norm that the coal era is coming to an end. Only six countries are yet to commit to a coal phaseout before 2030, while some southeast European countries – Greece and Slovakia – have committed to doing so even much earlier. The challenge is to plan alternatives as soon as possible and do so in a manner that is representative of the interests of workers and communities from the coal regions. Against this backdrop, the Western Balkans and Ukraine Coal Regions in Transition Platform has been established, encompassing a broad variety of institutional involvement.
For decades, European trade policy has aimed to liberalise international trade, allowing
European companies to access foreign markets, raw materials and labour, leading to
deregulation often against the public interest and contributing to negative social and
environmental impacts both here and abroad. This form of unfettered economic globalisation
has deepened global inequality, concentrated wealth and brought the world to the brink of
climate catastrophe and natural resource depletion, making us vulnerable to global
pandemics such as COVID-19.
Action in the next 10 years will be most decisive in reaching the 1.5°C objective. The EU will need to increase its 2030 domestic greenhouse emission reduction target under the Paris Agreement from at least 40% to at least 65% compared to 1990 emissions. Such an ambition level would be in line with the recent UNEP Emissions Gap Report underlining that a trajectory consistent with the Paris 1.5°C goal requires emissions to annually decrease by 7.6% between now and 2030.
Industry currently represents 14% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. If targets and incentives are set correctly industry will be essential to provide technological solutions at scale to curtail the climate and biodiversity crises.
Methane is the most potent greenhouse gas after CO2 and has been regulated both by the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015. Long underreported and mostly ignored, awareness of the true magnitude and climate impact of methane emissions has increased significantly in recent years, in particular from the energy and petrochemical sectors.
The COVID-19 health and economic crisis is converging with the increasingly evident climate and biodiversity crises. Global warming and ecosystem deterioration are laying the ground for future upheaval of society. While the recovery measures must address the immediate health, social and economic urgency, they must support the development of a resilient and sustainable economy, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Green Deal.
This set of recommendations, undersigned by 14 climate, environment and development NGOs, responds to the European Commission’s Communication (11 December 2019) and sets out guiding principles and policy recommendations for Commissioner Urpilainen, to ensure the European Green Deal delivers for people in the EU’s partner countries, the climate and biodiversity.
We need a rapid and far-reaching transition of our energy system if we want to remain compatible with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit temperature rise to 1,5°C.
A just transition means delivering the socio-economic transformation required to address climate change, whilst reducing inequalities in the most affected regions and ensuring the costs and benefits of the transition are spread fairly.
The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is an investment treaty from the 1990s. It contains an arbitration mechanism known as Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS) that allows a private investor to sue a state for any behaviour that harms their economic interest, including legislating in the public interest. Arbitration panels can award millions, sometimes billions of Euro in compensation. The ECT is the most frequently invoked International Investment Agreement with 128 publically known cases. The actual number is likely to be higher because there is no obligation to make cases public.