At the Environment Council held on 4th October 2019 in Luxembourg, the ministers held a policy debate on the EU's strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy, and ministers adopted conclusions on climate change, which set out the EU's position for the UN climate change meetings (COP25) in Santiago de Chile in December 2019.
The policy debate about the EU long-term emissions reduction strategy is part of a process, which helps to set the EU’s 2050 strategy aiming to creating low CO2 emitting EU economy. On 20th of June, the European Council invited the Council and the Commission to advance work on the conditions, the incentives and the enabling framework, which are necessary to be put in place so as to ensure a just and socially balanced transition to a climate-neutral EU in line with the Paris Agreement. Many Member States emphasized that the EU has to agree on the 2050 climate neutrality by the end of 2019, so the EU can submit its long-term decarbonisation strategy to the UNFCCC in 2020 as soon as possible and thus keep its leading role in international climate negotiations. Many ministers stressed that the transition to climate neutrality should be inclusive, just and socially acceptable and Member States’ different socio-economic specificities, geographical circumstances and starting point should be taken into account. Many Member States emphasized that for the transition to climate neutrality investment to low carbon emitting technologies should be supported. Many argued for new financial instruments, which help the just transition in the most affected regions and sectors. In this regards, several Member States welcomed the political will to set up a Just Transition Fund.
Representing Hungary, Mr Péter Kaderják welcomed the Finnish Presidency intention to start debate at the Environment Council on those conditions, incentives, enabling framework that is needed in short and mid-term to get closer to the ambitious objective for the EU to achieve climate neutrality.
Main priority for Hungary is to put the full decarbonisation of the electricity market in the heart of the EU long-term energy and climate policy, because this would enable the decarbonisation of transport and the rest of the heating sector. State Secretary Kaderják emphasized that we attach great importance to ensuring technology neutrality when it comes to full decarbonisation of the electricity sector. It is particularly important that nuclear energy play a role in the transition. Similarly, successfully achieving the 2020 and 2030 targets is a very important question of credibility. State Secretary Kaderják stressed that the successful finalisation of the negotiations on the EU budget for post 2020 is critical. In this regard, especially important that in case we are about to determine a highly ambitious emission reduction pathway for less developed, but well-performing Member States in climate protection, it is vital to enable the transition economically as well, without posing serious disadvantage on those Member States and their citizens. State Secretary Kaderják highlighted that additional incentives are needed that promote the emissions reduction in those sectors where CO2 emissions are high, such as transport or building sector.
At the Environment Council ministers adopted conclusions on climate change, which set out the EU's position for the UN climate change meetings (COP25) in Santiago de Chile in December 2019. The EU will represent a united and coherent position in the next round of international climate negotiations. The Council reiterated the importance of stepping up global climate action. Ministers agreed to update the EU’s 2030 climate target in line with the Paris Agreement.
State Secretary Kaderják stressed it is very important that the EU send coherent and united messages to the third countries and its partners in relation to international climate policy. He added that in relation to 2030 climate target and the 2050 decarbonisation strategy the EU messages should be in line with the Council decisions adopted earlier and the Paris Agreement. As regarding the EU climate neutrality, for us the June European Council decision is currently the guiding line. He emphasized that it is very important to maintain the competitiveness of EU’s industry, taking into account the Member States specificities. The right for Member States to decide on their own energy mix should be respected, building on the measures adopted for achieving the 2030 emissions reduction goal.
Council conclusions on the EU position for COP25 can be read here:
Under any other business the Presidency informed ministers on the state of play of the legislative proposal on real driving emissions. The Danish delegation informed ministers on its proposal in relation to transition to a fleet of zero-emission passenger cars.
Ministers adopted Council Conclusions on the 8th Environmental Action Plan. The objective of the Conclusions to put forward criterion to the European Commission for providing environmental policy framework for the period 2021-2030. The Conclusions aims to set out a common agenda for tackling climate-change, preventing the loss of biodiversity and facilitating the transition towards circular economy.
Ministers also adopted Council Conclusions on Circular Economy. The Conclusions aims at establishing the framework for the activities to be delivered by first and foremost, the European Commission and also by the Member States. A focus lies on key sectors to address circularity, such as textile, food, construction and demolition.
The ministers of Germany, Austria and Luxembourg informed ministers on the state of play of debates and legislation on sustainable finance (taxonomy regulation).
The Presidency and The Commission briefed ministers on a recent Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and Flora in Geneva, 17-28 August 2019.