Paris Climate Agreement: EU ministers moving forward without the US
Environment ministers from across the European Union will meet this week in Estonia to discuss recent global developments on climate change and the European Union’s implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.
To say that the first half of the year has been contentious would be to belabor understatement to its breaking point.
Of course, the primary driver of this year’s contentiousness has been the United States, led by its less-than-fearless leader, Donald Trump. The European Union — while certainly not without soot on its hands — has made itself the public face of the opposition to the United States’ protectionist and isolationist policies.
From G20 to G19
Last week’s G20 Summit meeting in Hamburg was instrumental in highlighting the gaping divide that is widening between the United States and pretty much everyone else. To narrow it down to the single issue of climate change is to singularly underestimate just how narrow-minded and ignorant Donald Trump and his administration are on a wide variety of issues — ranging from trade issues to international treaties.
But of course, for our purposes, Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement was met with unanimous opposition by all other members of the G20, essentially creating a G19 (on more issues than just climate change).
Stepping out of the G20 Summit, then, and into the rest of this year, it will be interesting to see whether the G19 will match their actions to their words. Specifically, it will be important to see whether the European Union is able to step up to all its tough talk of late. Before the Summit, heads of the European Union, from EU Member States through to the EU Presidents of the Council and Commission announced their strong commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, and their desire to “swiftly and fully” implement the Agreement’s targets.
Time for action to support the Paris Climate Agreement
The first big sign of whether the European Union will match its deeds to its big talk is coming up at the end of this week, at a meeting of European Union environment ministers who will meet in Estonia on Thursday and Friday to discuss recent global climate change developments and the European Union’s implementation of the Paris Agreement.
They meet with Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete for an informal EU Environmental Council meeting, organized by the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council, and will focus on eco-innovation and international climate action.
The two days will be filled with various bilateral meetings and working lunches (which always sound like the best type of working), as the Ministers seek to hash out a path forward. The working lunch is reserved exclusively for the heads of delegations.
“If we want to keep and increase our standard of living, we need fresh thinking and new solutions,” said Siim Kiisler, the Estonian Minister for the Environment, who chaired the meeting on eco-innovation on Thursday.
“This is where eco-innovation comes in. Waste can be a valuable resource, products can be designed to be greener, processes can be smarter and more efficient.”
“Sustainable financing means valuing environment, economy and society together at once. It’s important to create a system where all three are taken into account. We can’t invest in green solutions just because they are green, they must also be profitable and useful.”
Whether anything solid comes out of the two-day meeting remains to be seen, but the Ministers are all likely to be supremely driven by the issues raised at the G20 Summit meeting and a need to put a best foot forward, in opposition to Donald Trump and America’s new retrograde policies.