Minister Brabec held talks in Luxembourg aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Paris Agreement as well as nature protection

Minister Brabec held talks in Luxembourg aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Paris Agreement as well as nature protection

Today the EU Environment Ministers discussed the legislative proposals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in sectors outside the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). In response to the recent decision by the US administration about the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement they also reaffirmed their commitment to fully implement this Agreement. In addition, at their regular meeting of the Environment Council, the ministers also adopted conclusions for the Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy, which aims to strengthen the implementation of European law in the field of biodiversity.

Paris Agreement after the US withdrawal

Today, in the context of the recent decision by the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Protection the Ministers [1] commented on current developments and the position of the EU Member States. In this respect, the Czech Republic similarly as other EU Member States and most countries in the world regrets the decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. "Today my colleagues from other Member States and I have reaffirmed our common commitment to further cooperate and start putting the Paris Agreement into practice." said the Environment Minister Richard Brabec. He added that in his opinion, the Agreement could not be reopened for further negotiation, as proposed by the US administration. On the contrary, it is now essential to adopt rules for its implementation [2].

"The potentially largest impact of the United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is that the US is a major contributor to various international funds, through which the necessary adaptation measures are financed in developing countries, as well as measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, they help to spread clean low-carbon technologies. Therefore, if there is a significant reduction of financial contributions from the United States, it can obviously cause a considerable problem," said Minister Brabec.

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions outside the EU ETS and boosting the biodiversity protection

The main topics of today's meeting of the 28 European ministers included the debate on legislative proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in sectors outside the emissions trading, i.e. in transport, agriculture, construction and waste. "I appreciate the progress made so far in discussing these legislative proposals. Achieving early consensus is important also for the initiation of the implementation of the already agreed objective, both at the EU level and internationally," Minister Brabec commented on the conclusions of the meeting. Two legislative proposals aimed at reaching the objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions set by the EU to be achieved by 2030 were put forth by the European Commission last July. With respect to the both of the proposals, i.e. the Effort Sharing Decision [3] and the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use and forestry (LULUCF) [4] into the 2030 climate and energy framework, significant progress has been made in the Council. However, there are still several issues remaining which need to be solved, before it is possible to take them to the European Parliament. "Nonetheless, especially in terms of the LULUCF, we are very close to striking an acceptable compromise. As to the effort sharing, we should take better account of the endeavours made by countries such as the Czech Republic which decreased the emissions in these sectors on time, and therefore have met the targets set for 2020 ahead of time," noted Minister Brabec.

"Progress needs to be achieved also in our next priority, namely in negotiating the revision of the EU ETS Directive. We are in the middle of trilateral discussions with the European Parliament and we believe that the current and upcoming Presidency will soon be able to lead us to a consensus in a way so that we could ensure predictability for the investment climate in industry and energy," added Minister Brabec. At the end of June Malta is set to pass on the imaginary baton of the EU Council Presidency together with the currently discussed proposals to Estonia. The next item on the agenda was nature protection. Ministers approved the Council conclusions, in which they welcomed the recently published EU Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy. [5] It aims to improve the protection of nature and biodiversity in the EU for the benefit of its citizens and the economy. "The Action Plan contains a wide range of cross-cutting measures for the implementation of directives "on birds" and "habitats". On one hand, they are to supply Member States with information and tools to facilitate further efforts in improving the conditions of habitats and species. On the other hand, Member States are required to provide the necessary cooperation in many aspects," explained Minister Brabec assuring that the Czech Republic is responsibly accepting this requirement to cooperate. The Action Plan should be used primarily to assist Member States in promoting the objectives of the directives and to provide support and arguments for their enforcement.

Comments:

[1] The Paris Agreement on Climate Protection came into force in November 2016, more at this link.

[2] Ratification of the Paris Agreement has already been approved by the Senate and now it is going to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies.

[3] Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 for a resilient Energy Union and to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and amending Regulation No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change.

[4] Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry into the 2030 climate and energy framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change

[5] Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy was published by the EC on Apr. 27, 2017, more at this link.

For more information
Jana Taušová
Deputy Spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment
Tel.: +420 267 122 944 nebo +420 739 242 379
E-mail: tiskove@mzp.cz