Connie Hedegaard: Debate on a comprehensive approach to non-CO2 climate-relevant anthropogenic emissions
President, Honourable Members.
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to explain the Commission’s approach regarding man-made non-CO2 climate-relevant emissions.
You are quite right; non-CO2 gases are a significant contributor to climate change. If we wish to cut our greenhouse gas emissions substantially, we must address emissions from non-CO2 gases in an effective way. I fully agree with your motion for a resolution on this point.
The recent roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy by 2050 explores cost-efficient pathways for key economic sectors in order to meet the 2050 EU objectives for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. This analysis clearly shows that the EU should reduce agricultural non-CO2 emissions by 42-49% and other non-CO2 emissions by 70-78% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.
As you know, the EU has already taken a number of measures to reduce such emissions. The Effort Sharing Decision covers CO2 as well as the five non-CO2 gases included in the Kyoto Protocol. The annual binding greenhouse gas emission targets for Member States will deliver a 10% reduction of emissions from the covered sectors in 2020 compared with 2005 levels.
We already address HFC emissions through the Regulation on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases and the Directive on fluorinated emissions from mobile air-conditioning. The Commission will adopt a report reviewing the Regulation in the coming weeks, which will show that the Regulation has already contributed to the EU commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, if properly applied, the Regulation on certain fluorinated gases (‘F-gases’) could, together with the Directive on mobile air-conditioning, prevent almost half of the projected fluorinated gas emissions by 2050. Even more importantly, the report shows that there are options which could contribute to further cost-effective reductions. Therefore, I intend to put forward a legislative proposal in 2012.
In addition to domestic action, internationally the Commission has repeatedly called for global action to address the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). At the meetings of the parties to the Montreal Protocol, the Commission, as the negotiator for the European Union, supports the North American and Micronesian proposals to phase down global production and consumption of HFCs as a complement to mitigation action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Commission is also fully aware of the short-term climate implications of black carbon and tropospheric ozone, particularly in the Arctic area and in the Alpine regions. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has played a key role in several recent science assessments, in particular in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2011 Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone.
Within the EU, the Commission is preparing a review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution. The review will be concluded in 2013 and will address air quality matters and their interlinkages with climate change policy. Black carbon and tropospheric ozone issues will be considered as part of that review.
Finally, in an international context, the EU is addressing pollutants like black carbon and tropospheric ozone under the Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. Together with other European and North American countries, we are presently negotiating binding emission targets for ozone-creating pollutants. If a successful agreement can be struck by the end of this year – and I understand from my colleague Commissioner Potočnik, who is responsible for these negotiations, that this outcome is within reach and there is a very good chance of achieving it – some improvements can be expected by 2020.
Finally, I know that UNEP will publish a report very soon setting out possible measures to reduce levels of black carbon in an effort to push for an international action plan for which international backing can be secured at Rio+20 in Brazil next June. Needless to say, Europe will push very hard for that to materialise.