Letter to Environment Ministers on ESR, COP23 and LULUCF

Climate action| Global transition

Dear Minister,

Adopting the Paris Agreement in 2015 marked a critical turning point toward a zero-carbon future, uniting the world in a global effort to tackle climate change. During the next Environment Council meeting on 13 October you will have the opportunity to decide on the Council’s position on two of the three pillars of the EU’s climate policy; the Regulations on Effort Sharing (ESR) and Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF).

This decision will be a litmus test of the EU’s capability to translate the Paris Agreement commitments into action at home, an example-setting which in turn is imperative to realising the stated ambitions of global leadership

The EU’s current target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 falls far too short of the EU’s fair share in the global effort to keep warming well below 2°C, let alone below 1.5°C. The United Nations Environment Program called upon all G20 countries to reduce projected 2030 emissions by at least another 25%.

While a revision of the Paris pledge is needed, the EU also needs to ensure that any legislation it puts into place now, at the very least does not undermine the targets which are currently on the table.

We therefore urge you to support a strengthening of the Commission’s proposal for the ESR, which at its current design would lower the already weak -30% target to a mere -23%. We call on you to support a provision which would align the starting point with real emission levels and ensure no loopholes would threaten real emission reductions efforts to be taken.

With regards to the LULUCF Regulation, we call on you to ensure that the instrument will support both the maintenance and increase of the capacity of forests to absorb greenhouse gas emissions. It is equally important that the legislation provides clear incentives to stop deforestation. Debits from reduction of the sink or deforestation must not be discounted. Furthermore, we are also concerned that adopting legislation with flawed accounting rules will set a precedent that might lower transparency and accounting rules that need to ensure the meaningful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

At this Council meeting you have also been invited to adopt Council Conclusions for the UNFCCC COP 23 in Bonn. One of the key decisions this year is to set out a clear roadmap for the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue. The year-long 2018 Facilitative Dialogue process needs to increase common understanding on how to operationalise the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

The process needs to include an assessment of latest science and action currently taken. It should identify means to reduce emissions rapidly and ensure that all sectors, including  shipping and aviation, do their part. A successful Dialogue should result in concrete commitments from all countries to put forward more ambitious 2030 climate targets by 2020. 

Building on this, it is of paramount importance that current legislation on your table will include review clauses which allow for the level of the targets to be ramped up once the EU has submitted its new NDC to the Paris Agreement. 

The latest Eurobarometer shows that EU citizens are increasingly worried about the multiple threats to their well-being posed by climate change, and demand their leaders to take bold action in this area. We fear that failing to do so would further undermine citizen’s trust in the EU to act in their best interests.

We hope you will be able to take these urgent calls into account during the negotiations on 13 October, as we count on you to continue to secure the protection of our planet and the well-being of Europe’s citizens.


Yours sincerely,

Wendel Trio
Director Climate Action Network Europe