Letter to the EU ahead of the EU-US Summit

Global transition


Brussels, 3 June 2021


Dear President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen,

Dear President of the European Council, Charles Michel,

The upcoming EU US Summit is an important opportunity to revitalize the transatlantic partnership in a way that  addresses the challenges posed by the climate crisis. While both the EU and the US have made important steps to increase their mitigation ambition through their new NDCs , these enhanced contributions are not yet sufficient to bring the world quickly and rapidly onto a 1.5°C compatible pathway. 

This goal enshrined in the Paris Agreement and recently highlighted in statements at the US hosted Leaders’ Summit on Climate, as well as through the EU-Japan Green Alliance Statement, is a central planetary boundary to contain potentially devastating run-away impacts of the climate crisis. Any temperature increase above 1.5°C would, leave in particular the poorest and most vulnerable populations on this planet, including in the EU and the US, to face serious harm and violation of their human rights.In light of that, we encourage the EU to work towards a strong joint statement with the US, and its subsequent implementation, which reflects key areas of domestic and international climate action and outlines joint responsibilities and steps to deliver concrete domestic actions and international diplomatic outcomes, in particular in relation to COP26. 

Ambitious domestic and joint climate actions


The EU and the US should agree to tackle emissions from international aviation including transatlantic flights, such as through their inclusion in the EU ETS. This should apply a multiplier factor to aviation emissions given their non-CO2 impacts which are particularly relevant in long flights. Furthermore, free allowances to the aviation sector should be abolished and auctioning revenues from the transcontinental flights emissions should also be used for climate action purposes, including for international climate funds in support to developing countries. Resources should be designated to multilateral climate funds under the UNFCCC.  


The EU-US Summit is a key opportunity to reconcile and restart the EU US trade relations after very difficult and tension-filled years. Such a new start should be forward-looking with regard to managing key future challenges and avoid going back to failed approaches such as a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) process which largely ignored the challenges of the climate crisis, or promising procurement of fossil Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) in return for waiving trade sanctions. What is needed now is a trade relation which is compatible with the Paris Agreement and its 1.5°C temperature goal, inter alia by working to phase out the financing, exploitation and use of fossil fuels instead of expanding its trade, by promoting Paris-aligned WTO rules, and by collaborating on COVID-19 economic recovery policies which pursue ambitious climate targets.


CAN Europe welcomes the recent announcement by the G7 to end international investments in unabated coal. This should be further strengthened and be expanded to all fossil fuel sources. The EU needs to strengthen efforts to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuel and other climate harming subsidies, which in turn can also free up additional resources to support the transformative changes needed for Paris-compatible climate action including through the recovery plans. Advancing coordinated financial regulation in support of the Paris Agreement between the EU and the US bears important cooperation potential, for example through the International Platform on Sustainable Finance. Coherence with the Paris Agreement requires that all finance labelled as climate finance excludes fossil fuels, including fossil gas. Jointly supporting collective minimum corporate tax levels can support the ability of public budgets to support the necessary investments required to implement the parties’ green deals in line with the Paris Agreement.

Partnerships with other countries

Both the EU and the US have partnerships or dialogues with other major players in the climate space. In May, detailed climate change specific statements were released both from the EU India Summit as well as the EU-Japan Summit. Both Parties, EU and US, should commit in their statement to make 1.5°C compatible climate action centre pieces of their cooperation and dialogues with other Governments, by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, supporting the phasing out of fossil fuels and fossil fuel subsidies, and promoting sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture. They could collectively review the progress they make in developing 1.5°C compatible partnerships with other governments, options for coordinating for even quicker and more effective emission reductions, as well as learning from mutual challenges. 

Ambitious COP26 outcomes on mitigation ambition and finance for vulnerable developing countries

We call on the EU in its statement with the US to commit to working towards ambitious COP26 outcomes on mitigation ambition and finance for vulnerable developing countries. At its core this requires to ensure rules for international mitigation cooperation under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement respect and promote Human Rights and deliver additional emission reductions; to support a single five-year common time frame which will enhance the consistency and comparability of the Paris climate  regime; and commitments to advance scaled up new and additional climate finance commitments for 2021-25 ahead of COP26 in line with their fairshare in the 100bn collective goal primarily through budget sources. This means in particular scaling up grant-based adaptation finance towards achieving the 50% balance, noting the recent US announcement to triple adaptation finance for developing countries. Finally, we also call on the EU to commit to working in the UNFCCC towards raising new and additional funds to address loss and damage.

Yours sincerely,


Wendel Trio

Director, Climate Action Network Europe



Background – EU-US Summit on 15 June 2021

Following up to the upcoming G7 Summit in the UK, US President Biden will make a visit to Brussels, both for a NATO Summit as well as an EU US Summit on 15 June 2021. A joint press release by EEAS and the US department of state points to the upcoming summit. A recent media report suggests it might be a summit primarily or exclusively by Presidents of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council, Charles Michel, and US President, Joe Biden, in Brussels (not the EU27+).

The US government has announced a new NDC at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate last April, with a range of 50-52% emission reductions by 2030 compared to 2005. The original NDC submitted by the Obama administration in 2015 aimed for 26-28% reductions by 202530 compared to 2005. CAT views a reduction target of 57-63% of broadly in line with a 1.5°C pathway. A large group of US NGOs including USCAN members haves highlighted a domestic 70% reduction as the minimum fair share. Compared to a 1990 baseline, a US NDC of 50% emission reduction of 2005 emissions would compare to an emission reduction of approximately -42%. To achieve a similar effort as the EU, the US would need to reduce its 2005 emissions by over 60%.