The Hungarian head of delegation, Péter Kaderják, Minister of State for energy and climate argued for the need for consensual, balanced and feasible climate commitments at the Environment Council held in Luxemburg on 9 October.
The European Commission has proposed stricter CO2 emission standards for new passenger cars and light duty vehicles from 2025 and 2030. The fierce debate accentuated on the speed and level of ambition. The Hungarian delegation emphasized that only feasible target can be acceptable, which takes into account the environment impacts and aspects of competitiveness and jobs. According to the Hungarian position, shift to the use of zero and low emission vehicles is undoubtedly necessary but realistic and feasible targets need to be set. The car industry, playing a significant role in economy and job creation, needs sufficient lead-time and incentives to adapt to the new standards. Consumer behaviours, purchasing power of citizens and significant differences of that among Members States should be taken into consideration.
Following several rounds of discussions, political agreement was reached on 35% emissions reduction for passenger cars by 2030, with a revision of conditions of achievability of the target in 2023. Part of the political agreement was that the niche derogation is to be maintained until 2030. Based on this political agreement, representing the Council position, the Presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament.
Ministers held a debate and adopted conclusions on the EU position as part of the preparations for the UN Convention on Climate Change conference (COP24) to be held in Katowice between 2 and 14 December. The main mission of the COP24 climate conference will be the adoption of the work program containing detailed rules for the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement. During the debate, many Member States suggested that the European Union should committee itself to increase its 2030 emissions reduction goal approved by the Heads of States in 2014.
Péter Kaderják, Minister of State for energy and climate emphasized: there is no political and legal basis for updating the EU’s 2030 climate ambition therefore the EU should not refer to it. The European Council should take decision about setting the long-term EU directions, following detailed technical and political discussions. Hungary pointed out that the focus should be on implementation of the recently adopted climate and energy package aiming to achieve the 2030 targets.
The environment ministers adopted Council Conclusion on the Convention on Biological Diversity, which represents the common position of EU member states on the forthcoming international meetings.
Between the AOB points, Presidency gave information on the on-going legislative issues, such as the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. Balázs Weingartner, Minister of State for sustainability accepted the necessity of the reduction of single-use plastic to protect the marine environment; however, Hungary is a landlocked country. He also warned not to adopt unrealistic targets on the field of separate collection of waste jeopardizing the functioning of the on-going waste management investments co-financed by EU funds.
The Bulgarian, Polish and Slovak delegation gave information on the need of adoption of measures at EU level to tackle air pollution related to the import of used diesel cars from Western European countries.
Ministers also held a policy debate on the heavy-duty vehicles emissions reduction. The Member States welcomed in general the European Commission’s proposal on CO2 emissions reduction targets for new trucks, which will be very important for decreasing the emissions from road transport.