On the informal Council of Environment Ministers, taking place 22 and 23 July in Luxembourg, Ministers discussed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will be adopted in September 2015 at a UN Summit in New York. They agreed that these SDGs are a challenge and an opportunity for the international and the European level leading towards a more sustainable, equitable and coherent policy making.
SDGs are an opportunity and a reality check
Ministers agreed that the EU should show its leadership in the implementation of the environmental aspects of the SDGs. “These goals are a tool to strengthen European environmental policies. SDGs are a reality check for our policies: Implementing the SDGs in the EU means that Environment needs to stay high on the agenda and has to be mainstreamed into other policies”, says Carole Dieschbourg, Minister for the Environment and currently President of the Council.
The UN Summit in September, addressing poverty eradication and sustainable development, will also be an important step towards the Paris climate agreement. Climate change particularly affects poor and vulnerable populations and sustainable policies facilitate climate action.
Road to Paris Agreement: Political progress needs to be taken up by negotiators
Ministers addressed the state of play of the climate negotiations after the last round of UN negotiations in June, the last “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Change” (MEF) co-chaired and hosted by Luxembourg and the Paris ministerial informal consultations. They assessed the progress towards an ambitious Paris agreement and discussed next steps to accelerate negotiations and find convergent positions with other countries.
Convergence on several issues starts to emerge, for instance in the field of adaptation to the effects of climate change, an issue of particular importance to developing countries. Ministers highlighted that this momentum needs to be captured by the negotiators, which start their next round of discussions at the end of August in Bonn. “Time is getting short towards Paris. Negotiators must follow their ministers’ lead and give us soon, and not later than in October, a shorter text limited to the main political options”, says Carole Dieschbourg, Minister for the Environment.
The Environment Council will adopt conclusions for the COP21 conference on 18 September.
Climate Finance: Instruments to build trust
Environment ministers yesterday and today worked on further issues that are essential for the Paris agreement – in particular how to finance the transition to low emission and climate resilient economies. They highlighted that political signals are needed to mobilize climate finance. Ministers discussed the proposal by the Luxembourg Presidency to create a climate finance toolbox, which could map, structure and select the instruments needed to mobilize climate finance. They also discussed the need for robust and credible methodologies to demonstrate that climate finance is flowing. This transparency creates trust that the EU upholds its pledges in this respect. ECOFIN Ministers will discuss Climate Finance during their informal session in September and also adopt conclusions on climate finance at a formal Council ahead of Paris.
Lima-Paris Action Agenda: Linking Paris with actions on the ground
Ministers also debated how to link the current negotiations on the Paris agreement to concrete climate initiatives on the ground, through the Lima Paris Action Agenda. This agenda has been launched by the current and future Presidencies of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention (COP), Peru and France, in order to collect transformational actions by subnational entities, businesses and other non-state actors. Several member states outlined concrete innovative initiatives in this field.
EU domestic climate agenda: Putting the ETS on the right track
Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete presented to the ministers the new proposal on how to reform the ETS. Ministers will have a first exchange of views on the proposal in October at the Environment Council.