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Climate Action
News article18 September 2015Directorate-General for Climate Action3 min read

EU agrees position for Paris climate change conference

European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete today welcomed the Environment Council conclusions setting out the EU position for the Paris climate conference (COP21) this December. The conference is due to conclude a new...


European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete today welcomed the Environment Council conclusions setting out the EU position for the Paris climate conference (COP21) this December. The conference is due to conclude a new global climate change agreement for the post-2020 period.

Commissioner Arias Cañete said: "We are now equipped with a solid position for Paris. The EU stands united and ready to negotiate an ambitious, robust and binding global climate deal. We will settle for nothing less. President Juncker made it clear in his State of the Union speech last week that the EU is not prepared to sign just any deal. It is now imperative to step up the pace of the technical negotiations. There are just five negotiating days left before we meet in Paris and the real deal needs to start taking shape."

EU position

Today's extraordinary meeting of the Environment Council set out the EU's position for the new global climate agreement. The EU is pressing for a global, fair, ambitious and legally binding international treaty that will prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels. The increase in the global average temperature needs to be kept below 2°C above the pre-industrial level in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The Council conclusions support a balanced Paris Agreement including strong action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change as well as adequate support for financing climate action.

Long-term goal

The EU considers it crucial for the Paris Agreement to provide a clearly defined pathway to achieving the below 2°C objective. Global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak by 2020 at the latest, be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 and be near zero or below by 2100. When using 2010 as base year, the 50% target translates to 60% by 2050. This value was also used by the Commission in its Paris Communication in February. It is in line with the June Declaration by the G7, and consistent with the EU objective of reducing emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 by developed countries as a group.

Dynamic ambition mechanism

It is likely that the declared emissions reductions targets in Paris will not by themselves be enough to meet the long-term goal. Moreover, they only cover a five or 10-year period starting in 2020. It is therefore essential that countries should come together regularly every five years to consider and strengthen emission targets in light of the latest science and progress made to date. All parties should be required to either submit new or updated commitments, without falling behind previous levels of commitment, or resubmit the existing ones. The EU has been a strong advocate for an ambition mechanism and considers it one of the key features of the Paris Agreement.

Strong transparency and accountability rules

The EU considers it essential that all countries agree in Paris on a robust system to track governments' performance and hold them accountable for delivering on their targets. Without this, it will not be possible to track collective progress towards the long-term goal.


The EU regards ambitious action to prepare for and respond to the effects of climate change to be a central part of a balanced agreement. Both emissions reductions and adaptation will be essential to manage and reduce the risk of adverse impacts of climate change, including addressing the risk of loss and damage.

Climate finance

The EU recognises the crucial role that climate finance will play in the global low-carbon transition. The EU and its Member States remain committed to scaling up climate finance in order to contribute their share of the developed countries' goal to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020 from a wide variety of public and private sources. The finance provisions in the new agreement must be able to adapt to changing realities and needs by reflecting Parties' evolving capabilities and responsibilities.

Pre-2020 action

The EU recognises the urgent need to continue and intensify action to cut greenhouse gas emissions before 2020. It stresses the importance of involving non-State actors (such as businesses, cities and organisations), in particular through the Lima Paris Action Agenda – an initiative of the Peruvian and French COP Presidencies aimed at catalysing multi-stakeholder action.

Next steps

The last negotiating session before Paris will take place in Bonn, Germany, from 19-23 October. The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) will take place in Paris from 30 November-11 December 2015.

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Publication date
18 September 2015
Directorate-General for Climate Action