European ministers discuss biodiversity protection and the possible raising of the 2030 climate target

European ministers discuss biodiversity protection and the possible raising of the 2030 climate target

Environment ministers from European Union Member States participated in an informal meeting of the EU Environment Council in Berlin yesterday and today. Discussions were held on two main themes – the global biodiversity policy in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the possible raising of the EU 2030 climate target in relation to a proposal from the EC on 17 September of this year. The Czech Republic was represented at the meeting by Deputy Environment Minister Vladislav Smrž via videoconference.

During the discussion of the biodiversity policy, the focus was on the question of whether the existing proposal for a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework provides the necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This framework should be adopted at the upcoming 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in China. The Czech Republic emphasised that a new global biodiversity framework must primarily contain clear and measurable targets and also an effective implementation mechanism. The EU ministers emphasised the need to actively prevent further biodiversity loss, and also the need for its renewal. Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the urgency of the current environmental crisis faced by our planet and the need for action. In his speech, Deputy Minister Smrž provided information about the active involvement of the Czech Republic in the parallel UN Summit on Biodiversity.

Subsequent discussions concerned climate protection, with most attention focusing on a proposal to raise the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions targets and on a European Commission impact study. The existing commitment of the EU and its Member States is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% compared to the base year 1990 by 2030. The European Commission is now proposing to raise this commitment to at least a 55% reduction of such emissions by 2030. The Czech Republic and other Member States are requesting that the EC prepare an impact study at individual Member State level, including impacts on specific sectors. “Any possible raising of the 2030 reduction target must be approved by the European Council in view of the importance of such a step and previous procedures,” Deputy Minister Smrž said. He also pointed out that forest losses from the unprecedented bark beetle calamity are significantly limiting the possibility for greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the Czech Republic, and thus also pose problems for the adoption of the raised 2030 commitment. While some Member Stats emphasised their reservations about a raising of the climate target, many other Member States expressed their support.

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