Member states of the EU have agreed on a unified bargaining stance for the climate talks in Paris later this year. The bloc hopes to conclude a binding global agreement that further reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
"We stand ready to conclude an ambitious, vast and binding global climate deal and we will settle for nothing less," EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told journalists in Brussels.
He said the EU would advocate for emissions peaking by 2020, after which they would be reduced by 50 percent compared to greenhouse gas emission levels in 1990. "They should be near zero or below by 2100…It's a fair deal, it will get everyone on board," he told reporters.
Canete said the EU's goals were consistent with those of the United Nations, which seeks to keep global warming levels to a maximum of two degrees Celsius over average temperatures before industrialization. Scientists believe this will help avoid severe droughts, floods and rises in sea levels.
The last negotiating session before Paris would take place in Bonn, Germany in October, to be followed by the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris from November 30 to December 11.
Possible success in Paris
The EU's environment ministers also agreed that the planned UN accord should be reviewed every five years to improve efforts to fight climate change, France's Environment Minister Segolene Royal told journalists, calling Friday's meeting "a step towards success in Paris."
"There are good reasons to already be confident," Royal's German counterpart Barbara Hendricks said in Brussels. She was optimistic that efforts to reach a deal at the UN climate summit would be successful.
The group's ministers however warned that there had been little progress in the draft text of the agreement and there was "considerable amount of work" to be done.
Critics speak up
Environmental and business organizations however criticized the EU's stance for not doing enough.
"It's regrettable that EU environment ministers failed to spell out how the EU intends to increase its own climate and energy targets," Genevueve Pons Deladrieire of the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) told reporters. "The Paris climate talks must be where the world decides to end the fossil fuel age," she added.
The lobby group, BusinessEurope, also said the EU needed to make "a clear call for comparable efforts by major carbon-emitting economies outside Europe." BusinessEurope's Director General Markus Beyrer said other countries needed to be encouraged to follow the EU's goals. "This is the only way to fight global warming. We cannot solve the problem alone," he added.
mg/msh (dpa, AFP)